Cote d'Ivoire Copter Claim Rejected, Diplomats Complain
February 28 -- In accusing
Belarus of sending three attack
helicopters to Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire, UN Secretary
Ban Ki-moon made a mistake, several Security Council Ambassadors told
Inner City Press on Monday night.
“I don't know
where Ban gets this stuff,” one Ambassador told Inner City Press at
the End of Council Presidency reception at the Brazilian Permanent
Representative's residence on 79th Strreet in Manhattan.
“He better have
the facts before he accuses a member states,” another said. Ban had
called for an emergency Council meeting, which was denied. The
Sanctions Committee met, and concluded that evidence did not exist.
Service took down and changed its story; a publication of Ban's
remarks to the Holocaust Museum in Washington Monday afternoon was
also taken down. In Cote d'Ivoire itself, a document described as UN
orders to shoot at civilians was circulated. It is all breaking down
for Ban, a third Ambassador said, shaking his head.
joke at the
reception was that a no fly zone over Libya should be enforced by
Ban's “imaginary” helicopters from Belarus.
asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if the Ukrainian helicopters
that the Security Council ordered in December, on Ban's urgent
request, had yet arrived. He said he would check and get back, but
nine hours later there was no answer.
UN"s Ban gets out of a copter, explanation of Ukraine not shown
the UN's noon
briefing transcript of Monday
Martin, is there anything further you can tell us about the
substantiation of the reports of attack helicopters from Belarus
going into Côte d'Ivoire, and where is the source of information?
What source of information did the Secretary-General rely upon to put
out the statement that he did on his concern about that?
Well, what I can tell you is that the Group of Experts established
by the Security Council to monitor the arms embargo against Côte
d'Ivoire reported that it had received information that three attack
helicopters and related equipment were going to be delivered to the
forces loyal to Mr. [Laurent] Gbagbo. That’s what I can tell you
on that. Yeah?
Well, just to follow up: Did he express, by the nature of the
information, was this intelligence from other Governments…?
I don’t think I am in a position to give you further details on
that particular aspect of it. But what I can tell you is that a team
made up of members of this Group of Experts and a UNOCI [United
Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire] officer from the UN Mission’s
Embargo Cell travelled to the airport that we have been talking
about, but was unable to verify the information and indeed was forced
to withdraw. And despite the severe restrictions on the Mission's
freedom of movement, the Mission continues to monitor activities at
the airport in order to verify these reports.
Just one more thing, if you will. Do we know that it’s only some
of the parts put together of these helicopters have arrived, or all
the components have arrived? The process — what do we know of what
sort of stage it is in?
Well, at the moment as I say, the Mission is continuing to monitor
activities at the airport in order to verify these reports. And as I
have said, the Group of Experts, which was established by the
Security Council to monitor this embargo, had reported that it had
received information that these three attack helicopters and related
equipment were going to be delivered. So that is where we are at the
moment. So, further questions. Yes, Masood? And them I’ll come
to… Matthew, is this a follow-up on this topic?
Press: One quick follow-up, yeah. I just wanted to know…
there are these reports of the UNOCI peacekeepers saying that they
were forced to return fire… I guess I just wanted to know what is
the status of that reported fighting between supporters of Gbagbo and
UNOCI, what the rule… some would question, I guess, what can you
say about that? It seems like a big development.
There have been a number of developments as you know, in recent
days, simply because there has been a turn in the nature of the
fighting on the ground, as you will have seen and heard. The
Secretary-General has made clear his concern about the threats that
have been made again and repeatedly to Mission members who are
carrying out a Security Council-mandated role in Côte d'Ivoire.
there have been incidents, including where police, UN police or
peacekeepers have been forced to fire into the air. If we have more
details on that, then I would be able to let you know.
Press: And are those helicopters — those Ukrainian, I guess
they are Ukrainian — helicopters from UNMIL [United Nations Mission
in Liberia], have they now arrived, the ones that were supposed to
Let me check, let me check on that. I think there was some
movement, but let me check.
there were no answers, only complaints against Ban by Security
Council member diplomats. Watch this site.
* * *
Ki-moon Alleges 3 Copters from Belarus for Gbagbo,
Silent on 3 from Ukraine, Says Only Fired in the Air
28, updated -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on
his way to Washington, called for an emergency meeting of the
Security Council on reports of Cote d'Ivoire's defiant leader Laurent
Gbagbo importing three attack helicopters from Belarus, questions
remained unanswered about the UN's delay in moving three copters and
2000 troops approved in December from Liberia to Cote d'Ivoire.
Inner City Press asked Portugal's Permanent Representative Jose
Filipe Moraes Cabral if the Security Council had expected the troops
and copters voted on with much fanfare in December based on Ban's
“urgent” request would in fact be in the country by now.
that, he answered, urging Inner City Press to “ask DPKO,” Ban's
Department of Peacekeeping Operations, to explain the delay.
Press had asked DPKO chief Alain Le Roy, who said responded that
an agreement had to be worked out with Ukraine about how the
helicopters would be used -- reportedly, only in pairs -- and that
the troops required visits to Togo and Niger and an unnamed third
country, now believed to be Mongolia.
Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:
In Cote d'Ivoire there was a briefing yesterday given by
one of the Security Council ambassadors, on the record, in which he
On, on. But still out of discretion, but I guarantee
that what he said is that, as a Council member, he was surprised that
the troops meant to get to Côte d'Ivoire, voted on by the Council
December, not being there was surprising and that, he said, you
should ask DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] why they are
not there yet. So, I wanted, it seems to me, it’s, especially with
this renewed fighting, that’s what sort of brings it to a head. Is
there some way to get a statement of what, if DPKO had expected them
to get there faster, if this is the fastest that the UN can get
troops to a place? What happened that an emergency call to send
troops in December is still not acted on in late February? Is there,
I mean, do you know, can you give a short answer?
am sure my colleagues in DPKO are listening right now.
listening, there was no indication: no response was provided to Inner
City Press in the 24 hours that followed.
And so the following
Inner City Press asked again:
On this Cote d'Ivoire question of why it’s taking so
long to get the emergency peacekeepers that were voted on in December
into the country, has there, I tried to go to the C-34 peacekeeping
mission yesterday, but was told it was a closed meeting. So I am
wondering, has DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] — you
said they were listening — have they provided any response to this?
we did provide some details last week, and the
position remains the same. Obviously the intention is to move as
quickly as possible and my colleagues are liaising with the troop
contributing-countries towards that end.
But were these contingents that are already in Liberia? That was
the kind of, I was just trying to get the specifics of the
Togolese and the Niger troops.
as I have said, this is what we said last week, and
it remains the case today that there is liaison, consultation with
troop-contributing countries with the aim of trying to ensure that
peacekeepers, additional peacekeepers, are in place as soon as
possible. Everybody recognizes that that is a very important
movement that needs to take place quite quickly.
explanation of the delay, before the Council met on the morning of
February 28, Ban's spokesman Nesirky put this out:
the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Cote
learned with deep concern that three attack
helicopters and related materiel from Belarus are reportedly being
delivered at Yamoussoukro for Mr. Gbagbo's forces. The first delivery
arrived reportedly on a flight which landed this evening and
additional flights are scheduled for tomorrow. This is a serious
violation of the embargo against Côte d'Ivoire which has been in
place since 2004.
been immediately brought to the attention of the
Security Council's Committee charged with the responsibility for
sanctions against Côte d'Ivoire. The Secretary-General hopes that
the Security Council will consider convening urgently a meeting to
discuss this issue.
full compliance with the arms embargo and
warns both the supplier of this military equipment and Mr. Gbagbo
that appropriate action will be taken in response to the violation. The
Secretary-General has asked UNOCI to monitor the situation
closely and to take all necessary action, within its mandate, to
ensure that the delivered equipment is not prepared for use.
meeting requested did not take place in the Council's Monday morning
session. A diplomat from a Western Permanent Five member said the
facts had to be checked.
Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral told Inner City
Press that with Belarus denying that any contract exists and denying
sending any copters, things have to be checked.
presidency indicted to Inner City Press that there are even different
views “in the UN” about “three attack helicopters and related
materiel from Belarus.... being delivered at Yamoussoukro for Mr.
Monday morning attributed Ban's “Chicken Little”
emission to his quest for a second terms as Secretary General. Others
surmised Ban sees his position on Cote d'Ivoire slipping away.
his Spokesperson and DPKO should provide an actual
explanation for the delay in moving the copters and troops voted on
in December, and now for the statement that “three attack
helicopters and related materiel from Belarus.... being delivered at
Yamoussoukro for Mr. Gbagbo's forces.” Watch this site.
pm -- at Monday's noon briefing, Ban's spokesman Nesirky
confirmed the UN hasn't verified the information complained off in
the morning. Inner City Press asked if the Ukrainian helicopters are
in Cote d'Ivoire yet -- let me check, Nesirky said. But Inner City
Press asked this same question before. On ONUCI's statement that it
was forced to return fire, when Inner City Press asked, Nesirky said
the UN troops had only fired in the air. We'll see.
* * *