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October 10, 2010

Shocking. read excellent blog by Matthew Lee

Excerpts here. Read entire piece and the one before it

In Darfur, Sora Destroyed and Kalma Dismantled Before Blind UN Council Visit

By Matthew Russell Lee

KHARTOUM, October 9 -- In the week before the UN Security Council arrived in Darfur, the village of Sora “was completely burned down” as part of “intense ground fighting and aerial attacks in Eastern Jebel Marra.”   
 These quotes come from a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report which was left on the bus of the Press covering the Council's visit.
  But the destruction of Sora, and the systematic dismantling of the Kalma Internally Displace Persons camp, were not highlighted to the Council ambassadors by the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Georg Charpentier.
  Inner City Press asked two Permanent Five members' ambassadors, after the Council's final press conference, about the destruction of Sora and dismantling of the Kalma Camp. One had never heard of Sora's destruction, despite briefings ostensibly on humanitarian issues in Darfur.  
 The other, who said that the dismantling of Kalma Camp had not been discussed, took interest in the wording of the OCHA document Inner City Press quoted from, that the destruction was either from ground fighting or aerial attacks. Which one? Not that the UN Security Council would imposes a no fly zone at this point over Darfur or South Sudan.
Many in the humanitarian and journalistic communities have doubts about Charpentier's even handedness -- the former saying he tries to assuage Khartoum by saying little, the latter that he has checked his press releases with Omar al Bashir's Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Joseph Lual Achuil. (Charpentier has denied this, but a higher UN official tells Inner City Press it is true, during “this sensitive period.”)** I have heard this from two, highly reliable journalists They can get no information except through the UN and only after it has been vetted by Sudanese officials.
 But that the Security Council Ambassadors did not themselves zero in on conditions in Kalma Camp, which has suffered violence then the blockage and now a stand off in which the UN's Ibrahim Gambari is negotiating with the Al Bashir regime to turn over five supporters of Fur rebel Abdel Wahid Nur for show trial and punishment, exclusively reported by Inner City Press, is troubling.
  Regarding this impending and unprecedented turn over, a Western diplomat speaking to Inner City Press on Saturday on condition of being identified this way -- that is, on background -- said that “Professor Gambari conveyed to me and others this is an issue the UN continues to work on, in discussions with the government and the UN is committed to dealing with this in a fashion consistent with its principles and international humanitarian law and that's the basis on which they continue to negotiation and discuss.”
 This is discussing turning over government opponents to a strongman indicted by the ICC for war crimes and genocide, with the fig leaf that said president's promise not to execute those turned over make it comply with international humanitarian law and the UN's principles.

 Is the failure to follow through the the dismantling of the Kalma IDP camp, and the failure to do anything about the destruction of the entire village of Sora in the week before the Security Council came to Darfur, consistent with the UN's, OCHA's and the Security Council's principles?

* * *

KHARTOUM, October 9 -- Not a single question about Darfur was taken at the press conference on Saturday ending the UN Security Council's mission to Sudan
  In the basement of the luxury Rotana Hotel, the outgoing Public Information Officer of the UN Mission in Sudan chose five questions, all about the North - South referendum, including questions from the UN's own media.  

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