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UN Never Answered ICP On Darfur Kidnappings, Ladsous Exposed by Dabanga

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7, 2014 -- Back on March 25, 2013, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson about how the UN Peacekeeping in Darfur could have let a group of Internally Displaced People be kidnapped while they were ostensibly protected:

Inner City Press: there is this incident where IDPs were taken hostage or kidnapped by people that were in Government army uniforms, and somehow UNAMID is saying that they opposed it and they denounced the kidnapping, but some people are wondering how armed UN peacekeepers could have IDPs under their care and they could all be kidnapped. Can you clarify how it took place and how it is consistent with protection of civilians?

Spokesperson: Well, I have asked the Mission for more details on that, and I think if you were listening carefully you will have heard me read out precisely what you just said to me.

Inner City Press: But what I am asking about specifically about how it could take place?

Spokesperson: I heard what you said, and Iíve said that Iíll see if I can find out more, which is what I have already asked the Mission and Peacekeeping Operations.

  Now Radio Dabanga has published a memo by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, from April 10, 2013, still saying he didn't know how it happened.

  What is Ladsous doing? Then, and apparently now, he refuses Press questions about topics ranging from Sudan -- why did he meet with International Criminal Court indictee Omar al Bashir in July 2013? -- to rapes in the DR Congo by UN Peacekeeping's partners in the Congolese Army.

  Dabanga to its credit says it is reporting the memos along with FP. The FP story, at least the first one, does not mention Dabanga, nor Ladsous' meeting with Bashir. Previously an explanation was provided for not reporting on Ladsous' extraordinary and public "non-answering," noted from the UK by the New Statesman, here.

  Will the publication of these leaks, in a non Ladsous protective way by Radio Dabanga, finally help bring accountability?

  The citation is to former UNAMID spokesperson Aicha Elbasri. Back on February 4, 2014, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson about the full-on critique of UNAMID and DPKO by Ms Elbasri:

Inner City Press: On Darfur, maybe you have something on the Government ordering the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to suspend operations. And I also wanted to know if thereís any response from the UN to former UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] spokesperson Aicha Elbasri. Sheís gone public, saying basically that, while serving as spokesperson of UNAMID, she wasnít given information; that the Mission under-reports abuses of civilians and other developments in Darfur. I wanted to know, whatís the response of the UN to that?

Spokesperson: Iíd have to check with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on both of those.

  So, respecting that, Inner City Press waited. The answers weren't directly provided by e-mail as the UN does with other, but read out at the noon briefing, apparently to see if anyone else might report more positively on them (no one did)

"we were asked about reporting by the African UnionĖUN Mission on developments in Darfur. UNAMID notes that it reports verified information on the situation in Darfur to the United Nations and to the African Union on a daily basis. This information is then made public in the Secretary-Generalís quarterly reports to the Security Council and, as the situation warrants, in press statements."

  To a casual or ill-informed listener, it sounded like a legitimate answer. But as the UN and its Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous know, this was part of Aicha Elbasri's critique, even then:

"On 24 April I resigned from UNAMID and wrote my end-of-mission report requesting the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to look into UNAMIDís violations of the UN Public Information policy which calls for open, transparent and honest information-sharing with the media. I didn't receive any response. On past August, I requested the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services to open an investigation into the matter. The information I shared with them should have made anyone who cares about the people of Darfur and the UN values and policies jump, call me and take a quick action. What I received so far is a deafening silence. And I can no longer wait, because every day that goes by, more men, women and children die in Darfur in total impunity and invisibility. So today I will break the UN code of conduct and share with you some confidential photos and information that show the African Union, the United Nations and UNAMIDí conspiracy of silence."

  Surely Ladsous' DPKO (and Carman Lapointe's OIOS) knew what Aicha Elbasri submitted. But the public response was as set forth above. Now, will the publication of these leaks, in a non Ladsous protective way by Radio Dabanga, finally help bring accountability? We'll be following this. Watch this site.


 

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