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As UN Confirms Nepal Repatriation, No Obama Coordination on LRA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 -- As UN Peacekeeping on Monday belated acknowledged to the Press that it had repatriated a Nepali officer from Liberia for torture, it left unanswered Press questions about flights of militias from Sudan's Darfur to Blue Nile State, and notifications of bombings of Somalia.

  Inner City Press at the UN October 24 noon briefing asked Martin Nesirky, the spokesman for the UN's Ban Ki-Moon, about flights of Janjawiid from Nyala to Blue Nile, and French and possibly US bombing of Somalia. On each answers were promised, but even the transcript uploaded at 9 pm had no answers.

  There was, however, a separately e-mailed answer to this question about Nepal:

Inner City Press: a peacekeeper in UNMIL in Liberia, a Nepalese peacekeeper called Besante Kunwar, who I think it’s confirmed by the UN he’s been repatriated. Human rights activists say it’s because he is charged with torture in Nepal, but they said that the UN has been unwilling to say why, and he says it was just a personal matter he returned. Is there some way to know why DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations]… why this individual was repatriated, you know, whether it was due to these charges or for some other reason?

Spokesperson: We’ll certainly ask.

  In this case, the UN did respond, in this e-mail to Inner City Press:

Subject: Your question on the Nepalese peacekeeper
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply @
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 5:19 PM

We have the following information from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations:

A Nepalese police officer was recently repatriated following information that he currently has a case to answer in his national courts for alleged torture in his home country. As soon as it learned of these allegations the Secretariat brought the matter to the attention of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to the United Nations, which confirmed that judicial proceedings were underway. The Nepalese authorities recalled the police officer and he was repatriated at the expense of the Government of Nepal.

In keeping with existing United Nations policy, it is the responsibility of the nominating contributing country to ensure that only police officers who have not been convicted of, or are not currently under investigation or being prosecuted for any criminal, human rights or disciplinary offence, with the exception of minor traffic accidents (driving while intoxicated or dangerous or careless driving are not considered minor traffic violations for this purpose), are nominated to serve with the United Nations. These proceedings constituted an ongoing investigation of a serious human rights offence, which falls within the applicable policy.

  While seeking response from Nepali human rights groups to this response, the following questions also posed by Inner City Press on Monday have not been in any way answered:

Inner City Press; on Sudan. The SPLM-North is saying that Janjaweed fighters are being flown by the Government of Sudan from Darfur, specifically from Nyala and Aljenina, into Blue Nile State to actually fight there. And so I wondered, I understand that United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) is no longer on the ground or has some logistical [liquidation mission], but since these will be flights from Darfur, where the UN does have a big peacekeeping mission, can the UN verify this? is ittrue, is it not true? If it were happening, would it be problematic and what would the UN say or do about it?

Spokesperson: Let me ask my peacekeeping colleagues, okay?

  But nine hours later, the UN provided no answers. Nor to the US Mission to the UN, at least after a tweet to Ambassador Rice despite her presence in the Security Council and General Assembly. Maybe during this week's briefing about the Mission in Darfur, UNAMID.

  Inner City Press also asked Monday again about Somalia:

Inner City Press: Sure, Martin, I wanted to ask two things about Somalia. One is that there are quotes from the Kenyan military thatthey have made an incursion into Somalia and they’re now receiving assistance by France, bombing from ships and possibly from the US by air. So I wanted to know, is the UN aware of… what does Mr. [Augustine] Mahiga think, and is there some need to notify the Security Council or the UN if you go into another country?

Spokesperson: We are aware of the reports, and also of correspondence that has been sent to the United Nations from the Kenyan authorities and the authorities in Somalia. I don’t have any further details, for example, on anything from Mr. Mahiga. But we are certainly aware of the varying reports that there are — some of which I think are actually conflicting, the reports that I have seen.

Question: there is a New York Times story quoting a Kenyan military spokesman saying the French navy has also shelled rebel group positions from the sea. So I wanted to know, is that something that triggers a filing with the Security Council in the same way or is it only a land incursion that would give rise to a filing?

Spokesperson: Well, as I say, I’ve seen conflicting reports on that particular aspect that you’ve just mentioned, and I don’t have anything for you on that at the moment.

  A Security Council member who would know told Inner City Press there's no filing by France or the US, and said, "What, does Sarkozy think he's the king of Africa?"

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon & Ladsous, answers on Blue Nile & Somalia not shown

  The problem may be the US as well. Back on Tuesday, October 18 Inner City Press asked the UN's Nesirky:

Inner City Press: the Obama Administration has announced, to its credit, that it’s sending troops to help track down Joseph Kony and the LRA. But I wanted to know whether there is any coordination in this with MONUSCO or whether this also complies with international law.

Spokesperson: Well, I am glad to hear you approve of what the Obama Administration is doing, Matthew. I don’t have any comment on that at the moment. If I do, we’re certainly aware of the reports, and…

Inner City Press: Was MONUSCO informed?

Spokesperson: As I say, I am aware of the reports and we’re aware of the reports. If I have any further details, then I’ll, I’ll let you know.

  Two days later, the UN provided Inner City Press with this:

Subject: Your questions on MONUSCO
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The Department for peacekeeping Operations says that:

MONUSCO was not consulted about the US decision to send a small group of military advisers to assist the forces that are countering the LRA, before it was officially announced on 14 October. Regarding coordination, there are currently two US information analysts based at the Mission's Joint Information and Operation Centre in Dungu, in Province Orientale. MONUSCO, consistent with its mandate, works together with the Congolese army (FARDC) and the Ugandan army (UPDF) in Dungu at the JIOC to gather and analyse information about LRA activities and coordinate operations.

MONUSCO is undertaking operations in a number of areas where armed groups are active. The Mission is also providing support to some FARDC operations in compliance with the human rights and due diligence policy. The complete lack of attack helicopters, however, affects the Mission's operations.

  While we publish in full the plea for attack helicopters, the newsier question is how or whether these US "analysts" in countries which are members of the International Criminal Court are somehow exempt from the ICC. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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