The Security Council is holding a meeting today on Sudan. The full council will be briefed by the head of UN Peacekeeping, Alan Le Roy, who will present reports on the AU/UN Mission in Darfur and the UN Mission in Southern Sudan. At a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday, American officials cited the significance of this meeting, saying that it gives the full Council the opportunity to hear from UN officials in the field about what kind of expanded capacity they might need to better fulfill their mission as the referendum approaches. (We can also expect the American representative to bring up the fate of the two IDP leaders detained by Sudanese authorities after meeting with the US and UK ambassadors two weeks ago). A close observer to the proceedings said that we can probably expect a joint statement from the full Council following the meeting.
The Council apparently decided to let cameras into this meeting and the UN’s media team has wonderfully enabled the embed. [NB: The meeting ended, so I took down the video feed.]
The meeting is scheduled to start at 10 AM, New York time. I’ll post updates throughout the day.
UPDATE: Alan Le Roy indirectly responds to American calls for expanding UNMIS to problem areas by saying it may help prevent small scale violence in those areas, but will hurt UNMIS’ ability to provide security and prepare for the elections elsewhere. His statements echo something I wrote last week, namely that a political solution–not shuffling around a small number of peacekeepers — is the only thing that can prevent outbreak of war.
UPDATE II: The Sudanese Ambassador pours cold water on the idea of increasing troops for UNMIS. “Increasing forces will not help,” he says.
UPDATE III: At a press stakeout, the Sudanese ambassador responds to a question from Matthew Lee about the two IDP leaders who were allegedly arrested by Sudanese authorities after meeting with the US and UK Ambassadors during the Council’s recent mission to Sudan:
“There are only two people arrested, but not people who talked to the council members,” Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, said. “They were arrested in connection to ordinary crimes in el Fashir. This is just a claim that is non-founded.”
UPDATE IV: A statement from Ambassador Rice on the detentions:
The United States strongly condemns the reported harassment,
intimidation and arrests of individuals in Darfur for speaking to UN Security Council members during the Council’s trip to Sudan. Any such actions are unacceptable.
Since learning of the detentions and reported intimidation, we have been actively working through various channels – through direct communication with the Sudanese, through the U.S. Embassy, through the UN, and in conjunction with other Security Council Member States, to establish the facts and ensure the safety of all who interacted with the Security
Council during our visit. The U.S. and the UK asked the UN to address this issue in today’s UN Security Council briefing so that the full Council could hear directly from UN officials about this matter.