September 10, 2013

In Syria, Amos Tells ICP 11 UN Staff Killed, Info Withheld, On Rebels' Kidnaps

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 6 -- When UN Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos took press questions by video from Lebanon, Inner City Press asked her about threats to aid workers by Syrian rebels including ISIS in Jarabulus, and whether the UN has any access to ISIS stronghold Al Raqqa.

Amos' answer included the statement that there have been UN staff killed.

Inner City Press asked, how many?

Amos said, "Eleven." She also said that "we have not managed to get into al Raqqa. 

Yesterday in Damascus the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent informed me we now may be able to get into Raqqa."

She said said she had not been made aware of the threats to aid groups in Jarabulus; Inner City Press has information not only of the threats, but that some including World Vision were forced to leave. We hope to have more on this.

After Amos' briefing ended -- Syria questions only, spokesperson Farhan Haq said, despite Amos' wider duties including Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan, the Eastern Congo, etc -- Inner City Press followed up with Haq.

Of the 11 UN staff killed, Inner City Press asked who killed them and where. Haq could not or would not say.  

Elsewhere, the UN announces the deaths of or even threats against UN staff and also aid workers. Why not here?

Inner City Press asked Haq if he was aware of any UN staff held hostage by armed rebel groups. He said yes, but gave only the example of the UNDOF peacekeepers taken and released by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which involvement from Doha, Syria says.

Syria has repeatedly asked UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to investigate this Qatar connection, but says Ladsous has done nothing. Ladsous is the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping.

Inner City Press also asked Haq what UN Peacekeeping is doing about reports of Sudanese government bombing in East Jebel Marra in Darfur; Haq had no information.  

Nor did he provide an answer to yesterday's question by Inner City Press, first to Ladsous without any response, then to Haq, about where the UN's promised investigation into the killing of Abyei's Paramount Chief while supposedly protected by UN Peacekeepers. The UN's provision and withholding of information is inconsistent and, it is clear, politicized. 

Watch this site.

Update: after the noon briefing and publication of the above, the UN provided this, on Abyei:

Regarding your question on reported fighting in Jebal Marra, UNAMID has the following to say:

The Mission is aware of those reports and is verifying them.

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