Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

March 1, 2011: Libya

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Admits 2d Flight of ICC Darfur Indictee Haroun to Abyei in Sudan, Impunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4, updated -- The UN has for a second time offered a free UN flight in Sudan to Ahmed Haroun, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, the UN admitted Friday in response to questions from Inner City Press.

  On March 3 the UN Security Council met about renewed fighting in the disputed Abyei region. Back in January, Inner City Press got the UN to acknowledge they had flown ICC indictee Haroun from South Kordofan, where he serves fellow ICC indictee Omar al Bashir as governor, to Abyei.

  The UN has defended this controversial flight by saying that Haroun and Haroun alone could stop violence in Abyei. The UN never explained why the government of Sudan, which has an air force currently bombing civilians in Jebel Marra in Darfur, couldn't itself fly Haroun.

The UN said it was a scheduled flight, then UN Mission in Sudan chief Haile Menkerios admitted to Inner City Press that it was a special flight. Inner City Press is told such flights cost $40,000, and the UN has confirm no reimbursement has been sought from the Bashir government.

But now the violence has continued, making the UN flight of ICC indictee Haroun harder to justify even by the UN's own argument.

UN's Ban & spox Nesirky, cost of flying ICC indictee not shown

  March 3 in front of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked Council president for March Li Baodong of China if the UN Peacekeeping official who briefed the Council, Atul Khare, had mentioned if Haroun would again be flown in a UN helicopter. Li Baodong did not directly answer.

At the March 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm or deny that that the UN would once again fly ICC indictee Haroun to Abyei, even now that his work in connection with the first flight has proved ineffective.

Nesirky said he would check. Ten minutes later, Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq announced by speaker to all UN correspondents that yes, Haroun attended today's meeting in Abyei, and yes, “he was transported” by the UN.

  This UN promotes impunity, even for one of the few people indicted for war crimes by the ICC. Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon brags about the Security Council's partial referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC -- a referral that Ban Ki-moon did not even call for until after the Council voted to make the referral.

  This UN is promoting and enshrining lawlessness, with no transparency or accountability. Watch this site.

Update of 3:48 pm -- Human Rights Watch, via Richard Dicker, submitted this comment:

This is the second time in recent weeks the UN has transported Ahmed Haroun who is charged by the ICC with war crimes in Darfur. We have real concerns because the U.N. should not be in the business of transporting Haroun. There needs to be an extremely high threshold of urgency for such action by UNMIS.”

Responses have been sought from the Missions to the UN of France, the UK and the US, with the latter two asked if they knew in advance of the UN's new flight of ICC indictee Haroun. Given her statements this year about social media, & after hours of non-response by the US Mission to the UN,@AmbassadorRice has been asked directly as well. Watch this site.

Update of 4:30 pm -- Then this, from UK Mission to the UN spokesman Daniel Shepherd:

As spokesperson, I would only reiterate the message that my two Ambassadors have both said on the record (and published by Inner City Press) first time around: that we aren’t going to second guess how UNMIS fulfills its mandate to provide good offices to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) parties in efforts to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiations. I’d only add that this work is particularly important at this sensitive time, to contain any potential escalation after the recent Abyei violence.”

We could note again that violence has persisted despite the UN flying ICC indictee Ahmed Haroun in the first time, and that it is the role of UN member states to oversee the UN Secretariat, not to defer in this case to what some see as its promotion of impunity - but at least the UK would put its position on the record.

Update of 4:43 pm -- this too has come in, perhaps in response:

Date: Fri, Mar 4, 201
Subject: Haroun and Abyei
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

You guys ask great questions! Have you noticed perhaps that the United Nations seems to be unaware of who is causing the violence in Abyei. And yet "diplomatic sources" report seeing the burial of 33 bodies - all southerners.

The Arab nomads say the violence started when SPLM police shot at them (Hitler used a similar ploy to invade Poland) - and today thousands of civilians fled Abyei fearing another crisis like in June 2008. The Dinka Ngok villages north of Abyei, such as Maker, have been burnt to the ground. The end explains the means. There is a creeping ethnic cleansing going on in the Abyei region despite the agreements of 2005 and the Court of Arbitration ruling in 2010.

Why fly Haroun to Abyei - what is his cv? It is, as you correctly point out, that of arming arab militias to burn villages. I hope to see more of your questions pinning the UN to the responsibility to protect.

* * *

Amid Abyei Fighting, Different Stories from Sudan Mission, Haroun to Fly?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- After dozens of death in Abyei, the matter was taken up Thursday in the UN Security Council. Outside the chamber, Inner City Press was confronted by two different versions of events, from two Ambassadors co-exising in Sudan's Mission to the UN under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The Ambassador of Southern Sudan / SPLM said that Khartoum is trying to take Abyei step by step, using the nomadic tribes.

The Permanent Representative from Khartoum, on the other hand, said that the tribes were simply going about their traditional business when local police with the SPLM stopped them then shot at them.

The Chinese Council President for March, Li Baodong, read out a press statement and took a single Press question: who is to blame for the violence, and did UN Peacekeeping say if the UN Mission in Sudan will again, as it did in January, be providing a free flight to South Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroun, indicted for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court?

We are watching the situation closely, Li Baodong replied, presumably referring to the fighting in Abyei and not any UN assistance to indictee Haroun. A Western Deputy Permanent Representative and his spokesman said that they hadn't heard DPKO give any notice in consultations of a repeat flight for Haroun. But... we'll be watching the situation closely.

Footnotes: at Thursday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about reports of continued bombing from the air by the government in Jebel Marra in Darfur. Nesirky said he didn't know about this and would look into it. We'll see.

UN Security Council in Sudan 10/10, Ahmed Haroun not shown, (c) MRLee

  Meanwhile the South Sudan representative says very few Southerners went to Libya, while there are many Northerners there. The International Organization for Migration has told Sudan it can only repatriate those who get out, mostly to Tunisia.

  Khalil Ibrahim of Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement is still in Tripoli. Inner City Press asked Nesirky if the UN would respond to calls, including from Suleiman Jamous, to get him out and to Doha.From the UN's March 1 transcript:

Inner City Press: on Libya, there is this Suleiman Jamous; there is this high profile JEM leader, the Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur, has said that the JEM has asked the UN to help get Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of JEM out of Libya, maybe to take him to the Doha talks or otherwise. Can you confirm that a request has been received and what is the UNs response to, not to say that one person, but this is somebody that Mr. [Djibril] Bassolé has been dealing with, it now says they want to go to Doha. Are they going to be taken out of Libya? Can the UN do anything about that?

Spokesperson: I have seen the reports, and we’ll follow up on it. I think I probably answered the second part of that question just now, given the security constraints that there are at the moment. What’s your question; the final question now?

[Later, the Spokesperson squawked the following: "The UN-AU joint mediation team has been working for some months with Dr. Khalil Ibrahim of the Justice and Equality Movement regarding his attendance at the peace talks in Doha. The Joint Mediation continues to work with him on his movement to Doha, including under the present circumstances in Libya."]

* * *

UN MIssion in Sudan Flew ICC Indictee Haroun on Special Copter, Contrary to UN Claim, "There Are No Regular Flights"

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 -- Not only did the UN provide air transportation to Ahmed Haroun, indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur -- the UN also lied or misspoke about it, Inner City Press has found.

After first obtaining confirmation from the UN that it flew Haroun to a meeting in Abyei of nomadic tribes of the kind he organized in Darfur to burn villages down, Inner City Press repeatedly asked for the specifics of the flight, and if the UN had sought or received reimbursement from the Sudanese government (which, it must be noted, has its own air force which could have flown Haroun, just as it bombs Darfur and the border with Southern Sudan).

After first refusing to answer, the UN belated sent this answer:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 2:17 PM
Subject: Your question on Ahmed Haroun
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

In accordance with its mandate, the Mission provides the necessary support to those key players in their pursuit to find a peaceful solution. In this context, at the request of the Government and on a space available basis, UNMIS provides seats on its flights to Government officials on official business related to the peace process, without any financial implications to the Government and at no additional operational costs to the mission.

But on February 11 when Inner City Press finally had an opportunity to see and ask questions of the chief of the UN Mission in Sudan Haile Menkerios, he answered that there was no regular flights between Southern Kordofan State and Abyei, and that the UN had flown Haroun by special helicopter.

Menkerios told Inner City Press, “There is no direct flight to Abyei. We flew him there in order to take him... We flew him by helicopter to Abyei because there is no flight.”

That is to say, the answer provided by the UN in New York was false, apparently intentionally so, when it said “at no additional operational costs to the mission” and “on a space available basis.” There was only “space available” for ICC indictee Haroun because the UN made a special flight, which cannot have been “at no additional operational costs to the mission.”

While some argue, as Menkerios did on February 11, that it is a good or necessary trade off to provide transport and legitimacy to an indicted war criminal if it might forestall violence threatened (even if by the indictee himself), it seems clear that a public organization like the UN should at least be transparent about it.

Menkerios (r) with Mbeki & Hillary Clinton, Haroun not shown

The context here is that, apparently in exchange for the government of Omar al Bashir allowing the Southern Sudan referendum, the UN has stayed quiet as things have gotten worse for civilians in Darfur, where Haroun is accused of committing war crimes.

The UN has yet to answer if Menkerios checked with top UN lawyer Patricia O'Brien (who has refused to take questions from the Press) or with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself.

Note: ever since the Office of the Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon provide the February 1 answer above, Inner City Press has repeatedly posed this follow up question in writing:

On your answer that Ahmed Haroun, indicted by the ICC for war crimes in Darfur, flew on a pre-existing UN flight, in light of footage from interview in South Kordofan which Haroun arranged with UN plane on camera behind him, please state who else was on the flight with him, how frequent UN flights between Abyei and South Kordofan are and what size aircrafts are used.”

Other than Menkerios on February 12, there has been not answer from the UN. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -