Friday, March 18, 2016

In South Sudan, Cantonment Sites Not Built, VOA Errs As Applauds Ouster in NY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive follow up

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 -- In the UN's continued withholding of news and answers about South Sudan, the reports of the UN's own knowledge of abuses are now being withheld from its own impacted national staff.  So Inner City Press has published below multiple leaked documents from inside UNMISS and from non-governmental organizations.

  Amid or because of this reporting on what the UN knows but doesn't say, on February 19 at the demand of UN Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press was thrown out of the UN. Audio here;petition here.

  One of those behind the ouster - and laughing and filming it on February 19 - was Voice of America, which tried in 2012 to get Inner City Press out of the UN by writing to UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, here. In 2016 the same VOA scribes has become an anonymous troll, defending UN corruption and ouster. Is BBG in on this? US tax dollars at work.

  Ironically, today Voice of America reports inaccurately from South Sudan that the SPLA - IO is to have 3,000 troops in Juba. VOA error here. But the number is under 2,000 -- VOA is apparently conflating police that are to go elsewhere in the country. In any event, the cantonment sites have yet to be built; one proposal, near Juba, would put them in the direct line of fire of the SPLG - IG. We'll have more on this.

Inner City Press' UN Pass was confiscated and its files seized. Questions sent to Gallach and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric have still  not been answered. A new ouster occurred on March 10, video here.

 Nevertheless, and pending reversal of Gallach's no due process order, Inner City Press continues with its exclusive reporting, this time from Akobo in Jonglei State, on which the UN is silent. Inner City Press early on the morning of on March 14 exclusively published an NGO email about problems in Akobo, then asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it. UN transcript:

Inner City Press: an email among NGOs there that in Akobo in Jonglei State, there had been an 800 per cent increase in revenge killings and that several NGO staff have gone into hiding but haven't seen anything from UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan] about this.  And I'm wondering, what is… I understand, I guess, UNMISS doesn't report on some of the fighting, deferring to some website you've cited, but when actually humanitarian workers are as… as… as frightened as this email shows, what is UNMISS doing?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Well, I'm happy to look into the issue.  I have not received any reports from UNMISS.

  An NGO in Akobo had just written, as obtained exclusively by Inner City Press:

"“Revenge killings have normally averaged 1 a month since 2013 but this week there were nearly 8 revenge killings.

2.  [NGO 1] had one staff killed as a result of revenge killings. [NGO 1] has been on lockdown since yesterday.

3.  One [NGO 2] staff is still in hibernation since last week due to issues related to revenge killings.

4.  One [NGO 2] staff has been evacuated from Dengok

5.  [NGO 3] member evacuated from Akobo to Juba after realizing he was insecure.

6.  [NGO 4] Field Manager has been evacuated to Juba due to security concerns.

7.  During this dry season, there is high mobility resulting in some of the perpetrators coming into Akobo from various parts such as Walgak.

8.  There was suggestion that head of NGOs arrange to meet the commissioner to express concern on the deteriorating security situation. [Individual 1] to take lead.

9.  The Bieh State IO Governor, Deputy Governor, several Generals and Akobo Commissioner are all in Akobo. The Governor, the deputy and the generals are planning on moving to Waat anytime soon.

10. UNHCR Protection team is in Akobo to assess the Payams for the possibility of relocation of people from Juba. Approximately 300 people may be relocated.

11. Verification of IDPs from kaikuny may start next week Monday, [NGO 2] to take lead but would appreciate participation of other agencies."

 We'll stay on this.

 On March 11, the UN released a report on South Sudan -- given to insider scribes under embargo, apparently in exchange for coverage not critical of UNMISS -- which while detailing many of the abuses was silent, at least in Prince Zeid's gloss, on the UN's many failings.

  It concludes, without apparent irony, by urging "that the freedoms of opinion and expression are guaranteed" -- this while Ban's and Gallach's UN throw the Press into the street, repeatedly, as it reports on the UN's failings.

Inner City Press asked UN officials Ivan Simonovic and David Marshall about this, including the UN's ouster without due process, on March 11, video here from Minute 22:20.

  Inner City Press asked if the UN's ouster undermines its credibility or consistency in raising press freedom issues. (As Inner City Press asked, the two UNCA representatives present cut in, video here at Minute 23:40; spokesman Dujarric did nothing despite the "civility" rule USG Gallach cited against Inner City Press, to oust it.)

Simonovic replied, I got your mail and I will respond, after checking facts.

Simonovic, on Inner City Press' Malakal question, said it is good it is being investigated, asking why arms were in the camp, how uniformed men penetrated the camp and what the UN did about property burned down. (He did not mention reports that the UN Peacekeepers SHOT civilians.)

Marshall said the score of the report was violations by the state and non-state actors. Why not the UN?

Here are some of the omissions in the report:

Sexual assault in UNMISS camp;

Upper Nile: No mention of chemical agent aerial bombardment by UPDF air assets on civilians in IO territory which Inner City Press raised late last year;

CES : No real coverage of use of chemical agents used in Wonduruba. JMEC’s MVM denied entry via Juba-Yei road,

Ransacking of parts of Yambio town by SPLA and no UNMISS patrols. etc.

 On March 8 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about more UN cover up, including in Pibor and meeting with governors of the 28 "new" states.UN transcript.

On March 9, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's Deputy Farhan Haq about more fighting, in Nasir. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: On South Sudan, I'd asked Stéphane yesterday about reported fighting in Pibor and people fleeing, seeking protection.  Now there's a report in the town of Nasir of significant fighting between SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] and SPLA in Opposition and maybe a third force there.  What is UNMISS' [United Nations Mission in South Sudan] knowledge? I saw they did a press conference, but it seems like all of the questions were about International Women's Day.  What's the state of their knowledge of the fighting in Pibor, Nasir and elsewhere in the country?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we certainly were informed that they're looking into the reports of fighting in Pibor.  I don't have any details to give yet, but they are looking into it.  And if they have details about the latest reported fighting, we'll share that with you in subsequent days.

 But when Dujarric returning with a canned statement on March 10, it was to cover up Pibor; nothing on Nasir.

 A group of community leaders in Malakal sent UNMISS a detailed complaint about the killings there, including that UNMISS did nothing despite being told in advance to impose preventive measures. See here and here and here, as exclusively published by Inner City Press.

 The letter says that UNMISS shot five people seeking safety in the UN "Protection of Civilians" site, and some died.

At the March 3 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about this, UN transcript here.

  In the hours after, nothing.

 On UNMISS' failure to search for weapons, entirely ignored or covered up at the UN Security Council on February 19, here is a first-hand account exclusively provided to Inner City Press:

"“Peacekeepers were given info 2 days ago as was info passed out raising concerns. IDPs (Shilluk and Nuer elders raised this direct with UNMISS at the time of being aware of info. UN sat on it until first incident erupted. That came about as Padiang dinka 'IDP' walked passed UN contracted gate guards (Warrior Security I think) with significant volume of ammunition for weapons and was stopped by Shilluk IDPs. Fight broke out, Padiang dinka killed and ammunition given to UN.

According to the information  obtained from the camp, this problem started day before yesterday when UNMISS Protection Security Officers received sufficient security report that Dinka Internally Displaced Persons staying in Malakal UNMISS Protection Camp received illegal weapons smuggled from main town center into IDPs camp by their tribe security agents controlling the town since first week of July 2015 when SPLA- IO withdrew tactically from Malakal town. UNMISS protection soldiers wanted to conduct the search for illegal weapons smuggled inside the protection camp but Dinka Internally Displaced Persons refused to allow UNMISS Security to conduct the search for weapons then the attack happened last night at 8:00pm.”

 Here is another internal email exclusively leaked to and published by Inner City Press, with names redacted for obvious reasons:

"From FAO Wau
From Wau: Subject: Serious Security Situation in Wau
Dear XXX

I hereby wish inform you about a serious security situation we are currently experiencing in Wau since yesterday evening.

Indeed security has been recently shaky in Wau and vicinity, but yesterday it worsened to the extent that many of our staff members had to seek for a refuge at night at the UNMISS compound.

Since this morning, all the vehicles are grounded at the office, as no driver could move and there is no authorization for any vehicle to move out of the UNMISS compound.

We are in contact with the FSCO, although no information has been circulated so far. With regards, XXXX”"The full document we have put online here. A quote:

In March 2014, a labelling error was discovered whilst transporting containers loaded with duty equipment for the UN Ghanaian peacekeepers in Unity State which brought strained relations to even a lower point. The error was exploited to galvanise hostility towards the UN in favour of the government by falsely presenting the UN as supplying weaponry to the opposition. It took elaborate interventions, investigations
and communications to clear the false impression that this created.

[ICP note: the same type of "labeling" or "clerical" error occure this months with weapons headed to MONUSCO. This is what UN Peacekeeping has become under Herve Ladous, who linked peacekeepers' rapes to "R&R, here.]

We'll have more on this.