Thursday, July 21, 2016

On South Sudan, Inner City Press Asks Why Media Banned From UN Camps, Spox Says Exceptional

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up To Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- 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.

As Inner City Press has reported including leaks, the UN on February 19 and April 16 ousted and evicted it, petition here, and on July 10 Inner City Press was ordered by Ban Ki-moon's UN Security to leave the UN Security Council stakeout while other favored correspondents could stay. This is censorship.

  Below is another internal UN system document leaked to Inner City Press, including on harassment of UN staff by the Salva Kiir government, backlash against Ban Ki-moon's proposals covered up by the UN in its public statements (Inner City Press asked the UN about it, below). And also below was the US' warning for July 20, the demonstration which featured, among other things, the old post of the UN's last SRSG packing heat.

On July 20, Inner City Press asked the UN about journalists' open letter to Ban Ki-moon to end his mission's banning of media from the UN camps. From the UN Transcript: 

Inner City Press: an open letter to Ban Ki-moon, in South Sudan a number, almost all media organizations have written an open letter to Ban Ki-moon urging that after a week of being ban from entering that they be allowed to access and report on the protection of civilian sites and UN House in Tomping say that there is no basis for keeping them out, that they are unable to report, so they have asked him directly in this open letter that I'm staring at to change the policy and allow them access.  What is the overall policy of the UN and why hasn't it been implemented, if it is what I think it is, in this case?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I'll check.  I mean, as you know, we've had security concerns about the various sites, including Tomping, given the events of last time, so there has been a need to make sure that the populations that we're caring for in those areas will be protected.  Beyond that I will check if there is anything.

Inner City Press:  Sure.  Even in other circumstances the UN sees the benefit of having a reporting of even the dangerous situations.  They know that it's dangerous.  They want a report on it.

Deputy Spokesman:  Certainly.  And we try to open up sites as quickly as we can, but we try to do that with respect for the security concerns; and, as you know, the last week and a half has been a fairly exceptional circumstance in that regard.

"U.S. Embassy Juba, South Sudan, Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Demonstration in Juba on July 20

The government of South Sudan has announced that it is sponsoring ademonstration against the IGAD-proposed and AU-endorsed increase of UNMISS troops to Juba.  The protest is scheduled to take place in Juba on Wednesday morning, July 20, beginning at SPLM House and moving to the John Garang Memorial.  U.S. Citizens are advised to avoid the areas in which the demonstration will take place. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence."

Here's recent UN document, and what Inner City Press asked UN about it:

"The fighting might reignite despite a ceasefire. Troops are moving in Malakal, Nassir, Bor and Unity.

A recommendation has been made to relocate all UN Staff currently in Juba to the UN House Compound of the UNMISS Compound, Tomping - action was taken by FAO already.

There have been demonstrations by the Dinka against the arrival of additional International troops today, 18 July 2016.

UNMISS incoming passengers have been facing difficulties with local authorities at the airport in Juba. The president of South Sudan has instructed the local authorities not to allow foreign soldiers into South Sudan. UNMISS soldiers are considered foreign. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan is trying to work out a solution with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior.

3300 IDPs are currently in the UNMISS compound – Tomping, Juba, however they will be transferred to the Protection of Civilians (POC) area.

The Ugandan military convoy is escorting Ugandans that were trapped in the capital, Juba during the heavy fighting out of South Sudan.

The IGAD summit in Rwanda and New York propose to fortify the UN Mission in South Sudan and the strengthening of Civilian Protection. This may however increase the animosity against the United Nations.

Thirty percent of the shops in Juba are open, however most shops managed by foreigners closed. There is a shortage of food, water and fuel in Juba and the border to Uganda is closed.

Looting of NGO’s inside and outside of Juba is ongoing - this may continue for a period of time.

All program criticality level 1 and 2 staff currently outside Juba must be cleared for travel by the Designated Official before proceeding to Juba. It remains the responsibility of Agency Security Focal Points and Security Officers, and UNMISS heads of sections to seek security clearance for this travel from the Chief Security Officer.There is an outbreak of cholera in Juba town, Tomping and Duk."

On July 19, Iner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: I've seen a UN memo which links these hindrances with orders by Salva Kiir to oppose any foreign troops coming in.  Says that… that UNMISS is viewed as foreign troops, and that the level… that there's an anticipation that the level of animosity will increase, given the Secretary-General's call for troops and an arms embargo.  So I wanted to, I guess, get you to say… do you… this is what the memo says, but are you willing to say that there's… there's a connection, that this is a pattern of harassment based on the Secretary-General's proposals, and how do you… how do you propose to protect staff from this harassment or respond to it?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I wouldn't link it to the Secretary-General's proposals.  Our basic point is that there has been increased harassment of personnel.  There have been increased levels of obstructions.  There have been increased denials.  Those are all clear, and those cannot and must not be allowed to stand.  We have to be able to go about our work with… without any sort of hindrance like that.  Regarding why there's a… different types of harassment from the population, I wouldn't conjecture what the reasoning is.  I do believe that if there's any coordinated effort to obstruct our work, that has to be halted immediately.

Inner City Press:  Right.  This memo also says that the Special Representative, I guess Ms. [Ellen Margrethe] Løj, is trying to work out a solution with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior.  Is that… is it fair to say that she's trying to… is… is it… is it simply to… to ensure free movement of UN staff, or is it to actually get permission to bring in the troops that have been voted on by the African Union?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, in terms of the permission and consent for troops, that is ultimately… this is something also that is being considered by the Security Council, and we'll leave some of this in their hands.  As you know, the Council is considering the matter, and we're not getting in advance of that. But regarding Ms. Løj's discussions, of course she is in regular touch with the authorities in South Sudan to make sure that we can go about our work without any hindrance.

Inner City Press:  And I just wanted to ask one… and thanks for the statement on Alfred Taban.  There's this other journalist in South Sudan, George Livio, who's been now in prison for a year.  And he's an employee of the UN's radio station there.  And I wanted to know, and some people there want to know, has UNMISS made a similar call?  What progress has been made in terms of getting Mr. George Livio freed?

Deputy Spokesman:  We continue to work on all of these issues.  Throughout the situation in South Sudan, we've been trying to make sure that freedom of expression and freedom of the media is upheld, and our Human Rights Office does monitor and investigate all of these cases.

After Ban Ki-moon's unsuccessful, some say self-serving whistlestop African tour, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni has said no way to any arms embargo. Wires like Reuters, quick to regurgitate in other instances the economics of arms sales, didn't do so here. But here is a document Inner City Press has obtained, of South Sudan's Paul Malong asking Museveni's UPDF for end user certificates on weapons.

We'll have more on this.

Below is UN's internal communication, signed off on by the head of the UN Department of Safety and Security Peter Drennan. (UNMISS' Ellen Loj said on July 13 to Inner City Press, You get everything as related to DSS, Vine here.)

Now from within UN DSS, leaked exclusively to Inner City Press, comes this: "On 15 July in Juba on two occasions during the day on the Yei Road, INGO vehicles moving to UN House PoC 1 and PoC 3 were stopped by SPLA.  The occupants were reportedly questioned aggressively on a number of matters before being allowed to proceed."

And this: "On 14 July at about 16:00 hours in Malakal a private truck contracted to IOM was stopped by a group of IDPs within the PoC.  The driveSen McCain and Rep Bass, those trapped were saved. No thanks to the UN, we'll have more on this.

UN leak to Inner City Press:

"Exchange of heavy gunfire outside the UN house, at about 300 meter north of the main gate started in the early hours of 10 July 2016. Few rounds of mortar shells landed close to POC 1 and inside the UN house. IDPs in large numbers subsequently began to seek refuge inside the UN house. Heavy fighting continued throughout the day including movement of towed artillery, tanks and troops. Heavy fire was observed on the hill north-east of the main gate.  Fighting intensified in the afternoon near POC-3. Heavy and concentrated mortar rounds in the immediate vicinity of the UN house resulted in the SPLA IO troops concentrating around POC-1 western gate.

The UN Tomping compound area also witnessed build-up of heavily armed SPLA soldiers who took up positions and fired bursts of small arms weapon. Multiple instances of bursts of rapid small arms fire followed by heavy weapons and mortar were heard around the Tomping area all thought the day. A large number IDPs and civilians sought refuge inside UN compound in Tomping. The western gate of Tomping was affected by heavy fire.

Heavy fighting resumed this morning 11 July 2016, at about 08:50 hours in most parts of the city. UN house and Tomping compound witnessed intensified heavy bombardment with the use of mortar, tanks, artillery and fires from helicopter gunships. Other areas that witnessed armed activity where within close proximity of WFP, UNICEF, IOM and UNDP residential compounds.

Please see the attached Communiqué electronically approved by Mr. Peter Drennan, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Safety and Security dated 10 July 2016 for your information.

The text in the document reads as follows:

1.        In view of the prevailing security situation in Juba, the Designated Official for South Sudan, in consultation with the Crisis Management Team, has recommended the temporary suspension of all incoming and outgoing official travel of UNSMS personnel to and from Juba until further notice, with exceptions to be decided by the Designated Official.

2.        I endorse the above recommendation and request UNSMS organizations to comply. Should any mission be deemed of critical importance, advance coordination with the Designated Official should take place for consideration and approval. The security situation is continuously monitored, and once permissible, the suspension will be reviewed."

Previously leaked to Inner City Press on early on July 10: two fatalities in UN "Protection of Civilians" camp 3, seven Chinese peacekeeper injured, three to four critically. And the role of Paul Malong, see below.

After more than three hours of meeting, on July 10 the UN Security Council members emerged. US Samantha Power spoke briefly, about getting more troops from regional countries.

Inner City Press then asked the Council's president for July, Koro Bessho of Japan, if an arms embargo had been discussed - no - and which countries are being looked to. He said he would not name names.Video here.

Could it be, as the UN's Herve Ladsous seeks to continue using in Central African Republic, from Burundi? We'll have more on this.  TheCouncil's Press Statement, has put online here.

Belatedly reaching the US Security Council stakeout on July 10, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about the injured peacekeepers - nothing -- then asked US Ambassador Samantha Power about the role of Paul Malong, should he be sanctioned? Again, nothing. After 6 pm, Inner City Press asked Angola's Ambassador about the use of attack helicopters; he said heavy weapons shouldn't be used.

The head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who should know or quit, said he couldn't give any casualty figures. Inner City Press asked about the seven Chinese peackeepers seriously injured it reported hours earlier; Ladsous said two more, beyond the Chinese. Inner City Press asked if his DPKO has dealt with Paul Malong. No answer. Video here.

Some say the US has been too quiet, even as aircraft are prepared in Djibouti for an evacuation. From US sources, citing a "hero from Benghazi," comes word of US personnel "trapped" in Juba, amid ambushes and NSA Susan Rice set to meet with South Sudanese diaspora / in exile, including Pagan Amum as well as Bakosoro, see below.

US officials Donald Booth and Susan Page have been informed of SPLA-IO reinforcements on their way and the role of Paul Malong, with Ugandan backing. Meanwhile officials of the UN, which has helped in the cover up, blithely tweet "shame on their leaders" -- are they aware of Malong?

Inner City Press was delayed in getting to the Security Council stakeout by the eviction and accreditation downgrade by Team Ban Ki-moon as retaliation for reporting.

Here is a letter from NGOs to the Security Council, put onling by Inner City Press here.

Now as some of those fleeing are forced to climb over the UN's closed gates, with helicopters with links to Uganda's UPDF over Juba, here was the 
initial memo Inner City Press exclusively published:

“JUBA Nearly 150 soldiers are reported dead from Friday's clash between South Sudan's rival forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to  the First Vice President Riek Machar.

The heavy fighting occurred on Friday near J1, the Presidential Palace, between troops of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and protection unit of the First Vice President, Machar, of the SPLA in Opposition.

35 of the SPLA-IO soldiers lying dead and over 80 died from the SPLA’s side.

All the bodyguards of the First Vice President who were deployed on the street outside J1 were killed, said a senior SPLA officer.

A huge force came from nowhere and joined up with President Kiir’s tiger force and opened fire on Machar’s bodyguards deployed outside the Palace for protection."
On July 8 amid the surge in violence in South Sudan, the UN Ambassador of Lithuania, until recently on the UN Security Council, tweeted on Friday that the Council would meet that afternoon about the crisis.
But when ICP asked the month's President of the Council, Koro Bessho of Japan, he said there would be no Security Council meeting that afternoon. The Lithuania ambassador deleted the tweet; the UNTV crew took down their camera. This as, for example, World Vision went on lock-down in Juba. Ban Ki-moon, in China, issued a canned statement - this as his spokesman refuses Press questions about South Sudan, calling them "too granular." 

On July 7, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, UN Transcript here. Dujarric refused an answer, calling it "too granular."

The UN Department of Safety and Security situation report covers up what other sources say was the targeted assassination of an SPLA-IO soldier:

3.         Crime – Shooting:  On 05 July at about 10:30 hours in Juba, UN military personnel on patrol reported a shooting incident near the NISS HQ on Jebel Road.  The report indicated that an SPLA soldier who appeared to have been shot was taken away from the scene by other Host Government security personnel. The body of a deceased SPLA –IO was reportedly later discovered in the same general area. It could however not be ascertained if this was the same person earlier taken away by HG security personnel neither could it be confirmed if the cause of death was  as a result of gunshots.

On June 21, UN DSS issued and Inner City Press has obtained and exclusively publishes the below advisory about South Sudan - well, Juba - which contrasts to DSS officials' behavior, for example in New York where on February 19 they pushed Inner City Press into the street(apparently ordered to do so by DPI's Cristina Gallach), on March 10ordered it out of the UN contrary to published rules, and since then have harassed the Press even when it has a minder.