U.N. Whistleblower Says "Horrible War" Is Being Covered Up In Darfur

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 9 2014 4:55 PM

Whistleblower Accuses U.N. Of Lying, Covering Up Ongoing War In Darfur

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A UNAMID peacekeeping soldier in Darfur.

Photo by ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN/AFP/Getty Images

The former spokesperson for the United Nations’ mission in Darfur published a piece in Foreign Policy today alleging that “a horrible war on civilians” in the region is “being hidden from the world” by U.N. officials up to and including secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. “The web of lies that various parts of the United Nations has woven about Darfur is vast,” writes Aicha Elbasri, who held her post as spokesperson for eight months in 2012 and 2013.

In her piece, Elbasri—using specific names, locations, and dates—describes several incidents in which the UNAMID peacekeeping mission and the larger U.N. organization ignored, denied, or failed to properly make public evidence of concerted attacks on civilians by the Sudanese government and associated militias. Here's a snippet:

Having failed to get the United Nations to investigate the situation, I have decided to put the matter in the hands of the public by sharing documents that show what the United Nations has done and how it has lied. Since the United Nations may never investigate its own wrongdoing, and the African Union is more concerned with shielding war criminals than protecting the people of Darfur, I hope the media and the general public will take up the challenge and call the United Nations, as well as the African Union, to account.
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Elbasri believes the U.N.’s slanted version of events benefits the interests of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. “The United Nations has espoused the Sudanese government's official line that blames all the atrocities on inter-tribal conflicts and out-of-control ‘militias.’ Nothing could make al-Bashir and his government happier," she writes. “The United Nations has offered them the perfect pretext to claim they are innocent of the crimes committed by their own forces."

The U.N., Elbasri implies, is more interested in protecting its relationship with al-Bashir—and the perception of success around the “comprehensive peace agreement” he agreed to in 2005—than acting as an honest monitor of conditions in the region. “Sometimes we have to behave like diplomats,” she quotes a UNAMID commander as having told her. “We can’t say all what we see in Darfur.” You can go check out the full piece here.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.