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In DRC Upsurge in Rape in Kasai MSF Saays While Inner City Press Asks UN About Its Failings

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, November 1 – When youth leaders from DR Congo and South Sudan took questions on October 26, it was across the street from the UN and Inner City Press went to ask and live-stream. Video here. It asked about the performance of the UN Missions MONUSCO aand UNMISS. Emilie Katondolo of the DRC's Young Women for Peace and Leadership said MONUSCO must do more to protect civilians. Now on November 1 about the Kasai region in DRC, this from MSF: "Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is treating more than 200 victims of sexual violence per month on average in Kasai Central province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of MSF's patients sought treatment more than a month after they were attacked, making it difficult to know how many more victims there may be.
From May 2017 to September 2018, MSF treated 2,600 victims of sexual violence at Kananga Provincial Reference Hospital. Eighty percent of these patients reported having been raped by armed men.
"These figures are an indication of the high level of violence that has persisted throughout the past year," said Karel Janssens, MSF head of mission in DRC. "The shocking testimonies from survivors that we have heard on a daily basis describe how people's lives and communities have been torn apart, making it very difficult for them to rebuild and move forward."
MSF is concerned that many victims of sexual violence are receiving care too late. Prompt care for victims of sexual violence—within 72 hours of rape—is a medical necessity, especially to ensure effective protection against sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.
However, three in four of the victims treated by MSF came to the hospital more than one month after they were attacked. Most explain that they were unaware of the availability of free care or lacked the means to travel to centers offering medical services.
MSF teams provide psychological care in group sessions and one-on-one for the most traumatized patients. Between March and September this year, 835 people benefited from individual consultations. Half reported that at least one member of their family had been killed or that their homes and belongings had been pillaged or destroyed. One in 10 spoke of having directly witnessed a murder or other act of violence.
Of the 2,600 victims of sexual violence treated by MSF since May 2017, the vast majority were women. Thirty-two were men, some of whom reported having been forced under armed threat to rape members of their own community. Another 162 were children under the age of 15, including 22 under the age of five.
Beyond the medical and psychological care that MSF provides, survivors of sexual assault in the Kasai region often need protection and help with other basic necessities.
"Protection for victims, whether children or adults, and socioeconomic assistance remain key challenges, given the limited availability of appropriate services," said Fransisca Baptista de Silva, MSF project coordinator in Kananga." Where is the UN?  Inner City Press before the October 26 noon briefing it was banned from for the 114th day in a row - and which featured not a single question on anything in Africa - asked Spokesman Stephane Dujarric and Farhan Haq, as well as USG Alison Smale who's banned it, "this morning when Inner City Press across 1st Av from the UN asked Emilie Katondolo of the DRC's Young Women for Peace and Leadership about MONUSCO, she said the UN must do more to protect civilians, giving Beni as an example. On deadline, what IS the UN doing? Also, from South Sudan Susan Kyunon Sebit William  told Inner City Press that UNMISS does not sufficiently protect civilians, particularly women, citing Terrain Hotel etc. What IS the UN doing? What did it learn?" Apparently nothing - these had been no answer three days later on Monday October 29. And on Sunday October 28 six more civilians were killed, in the village of Makumbo on the RN4 near Mbau in the Beni territory of North Kivu. So on October 29, Inner City Press asked: "October 29-2: In DRC, following up on last week's UNanswered question about MONUSCO not protecting civilians in Beni according to a DRC youth leader, please confirm or deny the UN's knowledge of the killing on Sunday of six (more) civilians in Beni." And a full day later on October 30, from Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, this: "On 29-2, we have the following from MONUSCO: MONUSCO confirms that suspected ADF attacked Makumbo (9km N of Beni) on 28 October. It is reported that eight civilians were killed. MONUSCO sent a Quick Reaction Force to the area on being alerted to the attack, discovering one house on fire and no civilians in the area. A subsequent verification patrol conducted on 29 October confirmed the casualty figures. The Mission remains in constant dialogue and engagement with local authorities and communities to ensure that the action and support we provide can have the best possible impact." It was an interesting GNWP event, with Lynrose Jane Dumandan Genon from the Philippines and Katrina Leclerk from Canada, where she says students in Manitoba have partnered with the Eastern Congo. Meanwhile today's UN bans press. When "the Role of Conventional Arms in Preventing Conflicts" was debated across First Avenue frm the UN on October 25, Inner City Press went, to ask a question. Video here. It asked UN Peacekeeping official Thomas Kontogeorgos what the UN has done about its negligent loss of weapons and ammunition - which Inner City Press asked about IN the UN before being banned as cover up by SG Antonio Guterres and his USG Alison Smale.
Kontogeorgos to his credit answered, only somewhat evasively, that DPKO "provided inputs" to the Small Arms Survey, and now UNPOL passes information to INTERPOL (the disappearance of whose head Guterres has said nothing about, despite written questions from Inner City Press.). At the end of the IPI program, Youssef Mahmoud spoke about the elephant(s) in the room, selling arms. Afterward Dr. Mihaela Racovita of SAS told Inner City Press they are trying to make further inroads with DPKO, for example with the mission in Mali. We hope to have more on this - the lawless ban by Guterres and Smale, for reporting on UN corruption, is not helpful. But we will not stop. Back on September 5, hours after in the UN Security Council chamber UK Ambassador Karen Pierce said she supported the morning's meeting about Nicaragua due to refugee flows, across the street from the UN Inner City Press asked her why this logic didn't apply to the confict in the former British Southern Cameroons and the flight of Anglophones from state violence into Nigeria. Periscope video here.

     Pierce replied that a country is less likely to end up on the Security Council's agenda if it is taking some positive steps. But given 36 year Cameroonian head of state Paul Biya's torching of villages, what are his positive steps? A sceptic might point to the natural gas deal he signed with UK-based New Age, which UK Minister Liam Fox bragged around as showing UK companies can still get deals after Brexit.

   Also on the panel on the "Culture of Peace," moderated by Kevin Rudd, was Secretary General Antonio Guterres' head of policy planning Fabrizio Hochschild. When Inner City Press began a question to Hochschild, who had spoken with gruesome examples from Colombia of the need for opposing sides to humanize each other though “dignification,” Rudd cut it off.

Stepping off the crowded elevator at ground level Inner City Press endeavored to ask Hochschild the questions, both Cameroon and whether Guterres and his opaque Global Communicator Alison Smale, purporting to ban Inner City Press from the UN for life without once speaking with it, should engaged in some dignification. He declined to answer -- declined to dignify the question, so to speak -- then said “Ask Steph.”

It was a reference to Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who Smale has twice written would answer Inner City Press' question but who has refused to for a full week.

  This as Inner City Press, already banned from the UN for 64 days amid its questions on Guterres' inaction on Cameroon with the country's ambassador Tommo Monthe heading the UN Budget Committee, has an application pending to cover the UN General Assembly as it has for the past 11 years. Dignification, indeed. We'll have more on this.


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