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On Somalia, UN's Kay Says Guards Armed, Question of UNMAS Giving US Info Is For NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 -- For nine days, the UN has refused to confirm or even just deny to Inner City Press detailed allegations that in Somalia the UN Mine Action Service chief David Bax shares information with US intelligence.

  After UNMAS chief Agnes Marcaillou ignored detailed e-mail questions, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant, and separately at the UN's noon briefing -- and was told to “ask DPKO.” But Herve Ladsous, the fourth French chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has openly refused to answer any Press questions, video compilation here.

  Finally today July 1, nine days after Inner City Press' first exclusive story, UN Somalia envoy Nicholas Kay held a Twitter Q&A for an hour. He fielded questions about Somaliland, Kismayo, Aweys, Puntland -- and initially not the UNMAS / Bax question, which was then re-iterated by the new Free UN Coalition for Access through @FUNCA_info.

  When Kay replied, it was to @InnerCityPress with this: “Sorry your question is one for NY. My impression in 1st month is UNMAS doing important work in Somalia.”

  The problem is, Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the question in New York, without answer other than this:

Subject: Your questions on Somalia.
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 9:43 AM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations does not discuss internal communications or emails received with media correspondents. UNMAS personnel are not authorised to carry guns and do not do so.

  So the main question still has to be answered. There are other troubling UNMAS Mogadishu questions, including harassment and hypnotism, noted Monday by a reader. Even on the guns question, Kay went on to say, “@innercitypress We take staff safety seriously. Some of our guards are armed.”

  Inner City Press immediately asked if this includes UNMAS contractor Denel a/k/a Mechem, but by then Kay's twitter Q&A (held from Europe, apparently) was over. So this has to be answered to.

  Still Kay did better than most UN officials. He was conciliatory to the many Somaliland questions, including from a FUNCA collaborator in Hargeisa (Kay acknowledged that "UNSOM operations in Somaliland are on hold.") He said l'affaire Aweys is up to Somali justice. But what if US intelligence, or the same middleman Bancroft Global Development, is involved?

  Ultimately, Kay cannot leave to be (not) answered in New York the question of alleged improper passing of information to US intelligence by UN system personnel in Mogadishu.

 As the whistleblower raised, it impacts staff safety, credibility and Kay's ability to do his job. Plus, Kay has a responsibility to act on the reported witch hunt at the UN in Mogadishu to try to find the whistleblower rather than address the complaints. But Monday, Kay did better than most UN officials. Watch this site.

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