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 -e.g. Somalia, Nepal, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia  For further info, click here to contact us         .

Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed

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

France-Led UN Council Goes Soft on Chad, Child Soldiers Unanswered, Strange Approach to JEM

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press in Africa: News Analysis

CHAD, June 6-7 -- The UN Security Council in a convoy of 24 four-wheel drive vehicles moved Friday across the Chadian plain, from Goz Beida to the internally displaced persons camp of   . French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert stopped to have his picture taken with IDP children, some of whom wore Eminem t-shirts.  Later he would close the Council's meeting with non-governmental organizations to the press, saying "they need to be protected." Since this is precisely what was said Thursday in Sudan, one wondered the basis for France and the most vocal members of the Council saying that Chad's Idriss Deby is appreciably better. But that appears to be the Council's party line.

   Just before ejecting the press from his NGO meeting, Ripert asked if "bilateral ambassadors" -- that is, non-Council members -- could attend Friday evening's meeting with Deby. But of course. Even though there are questions one expected the Council to get Deby's answers to, it became then even clearer that unlike the meeting with Bashir on Thursday, Friday's planned session with Deby would be little more than a photo-op.

  On the plane ride from Khartoum to Abeche, Amb. Ripert came back to speak with the press. When Inner City Press asked about France's agreement with the Deby government, Ripert said, we are not here to talk about that, I will tell you once, it is a cooperation agreement, for medicine, ammunition and training.  When asked if the two soldiers on EUFOR patrol who went into Sudan and were shot were, in fact, France, Ripert said, they were EUFOR, that's all.  But the UNAMID peacekeeper killed recently in the Zamzam camp was described as Ugandan, that's how news is reported.

Al-Bashir, Deby and UN's Ban in Dakar: those were the days

   While in Chad the Council spent more time listening and looking than they did Thursday in Darfur's Zamzam camp, still some of the interaction felt scripted. To two separate meetings, UK Ambassador John Sawers said, "Yesterday we pressed President al-Bashir." In the first meeting, applause became before Sawers had even finished the phrase. In the second, at the Chadian IDP camp, there was only silence. In fact, sources in the Council's meeting with al-Bashir describe Sawers, far from pressing Bashir, getting pressed by him, when he made complaints in the name of NGOs. "We set up a commission for that," al-Bashir said. "Why are the NGOs raising it to you, and you to me?"

  In Chad, the Council ended up meeting not with Deby but only with the new prime minister Youssouf Saleh Abbas and a handful of others quickly dubbed the B Team. They met in what looked like a living room, but for Deby's portrait on the wall of the living room and throughout the house. The Prime Minister left halfway through, to pick up Deby from the airport, saying he had just returned from Libya. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked if they had even mentioned the issues they had said while in Sudan they would be raising here.  Where is the Chadian opposition leader who disappeared earlier this year and whose whereabouts are still unknown? Did Chad fund the Justice and Equality Movement's assault on Omdurman on May 10? Were child soldiers recruited and captured, as the UN Mission in Darfur's own Rodolphe Adada told Inner City Press has been confirmed?

   Ambassador Ripert dodged the questions, saying they had discussed "human rights" and the "rule of law," and that Chad denied supporting the JEM attack on Khartoum. He did not even respond on child soldiers or the missing opposition leader.  When the BBC's Africa hand asked if there was any precedent for a president being in his country and refusing to meet with a full Security Council delegation, Ripert claimed the Deby was still not in the country, despite what had earlier been said about the purpose of the Prime Minister rushing to the airport.

  At a reception on the spacious back lawn of the residence of France's Ambassador to Chad, on which a small gazelle was on display, Ripert introduced UNHCR's Serge Male, and then walked away. 

  Did France ask Deby to pardon the NGO workers from L'Arche de Zoe from their convictions for kidnapping children from Sudan and Chad? Were these the NGOs who "needed to be protected"?

UK Ambassador John Sawers declined to answer questions, saying he thought that work had stopped.  For the journalists, it had -- the hotel the UN put them in, with the highest room rate yet, had no Internet in the rooms, and the lights went out even as the delegation turned in. UN sources say that the Special Representative of the Secretary General had neglected to extend the UN room rate with the hotel.   

  Inner City Press asked this SRSG, Victor Angelo, to respond to criticism that "international" action in Chad, particularly but not only EUFOR, is mostly French interests dressed in the clothes of internationalism. Angelo declined to comment on the record about EUFOR. Likewise when Inner City Press asked if the Justice and Equality Movement is active in Chad, Angelo said his answer was off the record. This was amazing, in context, given that the UN claims to work for and not around its member states.

   Only the third of Inner City Press' three questions did he answer without going off the record. Inner City Press asked about statements in the British parliament that two of the UN's last top representatives in Zimbabwe were so close to Robert Mugabe that they took property from him. "She has retracted that," Angelo quickly answered, adding that she was probably referring to "the Cameroonian" who came between himself and the present head of UN operations in Zimbabwe.  Yes I spoke with Mugabe right to the end, Angelo said. Just as now he deals with Idriss Deby and even certain rebel groups he supports.

  Ripert has promised to be open to the press, to take them everywhere that the Ambassadors go. But as soon as the delegation got off the plane in Abeche, Ripert and the Council got into 4 by 4s and sped off, leaving the press seeking shade under a tree, under the watchful and at times leering eye of Chadian troops. When the Council came back and poured into two smaller planes, the press was suddenly told that there must be a pooling arrangement, leaving some under that tree in Abeche for the next four hours.  Finally Inner City Press was allowed on a helicopter marked "UN" but operated by "Vertical T," the company which crashed one and perhaps two copters in Nepal, killing at least ten. 

  An even smaller pool was then projected for the visit to Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the region where the UN is most systemically accused of wrongdoing, from sexual abuse to, as Inner City Press has reported in detail, the trading by UN peacekeepers of guns for gold. After some push-back, it's said that a second plane, that will go and return early, is being arranged. We'll see -- watch this site.

Full disclosure: the majority of this column was written on a UN helicopter from Goz Beida, back to Abeche, run not by Vertical T but rather The article was ready to be filed from five p.m. onwards, but the UN had not even made sure there would be Internet access for the press. Victor Angelo had not renewed the UN room rate or booked a press room, as UNMIS had done in Sudan. The UN, it seems clear, wants there to be criticism of Sudan, but not of Chad.

News analysis: At least as to the Sudan and Chad, the UN and its Council do not appear to be working even-handedly to try to settle disputes. They may even be exacerbating conflict, largely because the Council has openly become a tool of some of its PermanentFive members. 

Final footnote on fruit:  Friday morning at the Khartoum airport, Sudan's Ambassador to the UN vented to Inner City Press about a Costa Rica-sponsored draft Presidential Statement introduced in the Security Council in New York in support of the International Criminal Court's actions on Sudan. We do not intervene in the affairs of banana republics, he said. Why are they intervening in ours?  Costa Rica's Ambassador, asked by a reporter for a response, said, "At least we are a republic."  After the wan meeting with the Chadian B Team, many Ambassadors left. But we intend to continue to report, in spite of rather than with in the assistance of the UN, at least in Chad.

* * *

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] -