154 Rapes 30 KM from UN Peacekeepers Leaves UN Silent,
P-5 In Disarray
August 23 -- Thirty kilometers from a UN peacekeeping base
in Eastern Congo, at least 154
women were gang raped over the course
of days without the UN doing anything about it. The UN Mission,
MONUSCO, costs $1 billion a year, and is charged with protecting
the UN's noon
briefing on August 23, spokesman Martin Nesirky read out a number of
press releases and then asked if there were any questions. Inner City
Press asked about the gang rapes, attributed by the UN to the FDLR
rebels, and asked why the UN had done nothing. Video here,
replied that thirty kilometers might sound close by, but this is a
“densely wooded area” and that the FDLR has “blocked the road.”
answered these and other follow up question be reading from
a prepared statement he pulled out of a binder in front of him,
saying “it says here.” Video here,
at Minute 12.
asked Nesirky why, if he had this statement, he had not read it out
at the beginning of the briefing, but rather waited to see if a
question would be asked. Video here,
from Minute 21:38. This is
important, in light of statements
Nesirky has made about his asserted
right to block questions, that there are no rules, that it is “his
told Inner City Press that he didn't read out the Congo
statement because he knew
questions would be asked, “if not by you
then by someone else.” The statement is true of many of the
statements that Nesirky does read out at the beginning of “his”
Could it be
that the UN knows that the gang rape of 154
women 30 kilometers from its facilities makes the UN look bad?
What will be done to improve MONUSCO's and the UN's performance on
protection of civilians?
one wondered, is the UN's new -- for months -- Special Representative
to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on sexual violence and conflict,
Margot Wallstrom? This is a test case.
UN's Ban arrives in Eastern Congo, inaction on 154
rapes not shown
front of the
Security Council, Inner City Press asked this month's Council
president Vitaly Churkin of Russia if the Council would take up the
issue of the gang rape of 154 women in a country with a $1 billion UN
peacekeeping mission. Video here,
from Minute 3:49.
said it was very disturbing but “we have not yet consulted on
whether we need to do something about it.” Inner City Press asked
the spokespeople of two of the Western Permanent Five members of the
Council if they intended to ask for a meeting or at least Press
Statement -- that intention does not appear to be there.
By contrast, when French UN peacekeepers in South Lebanon had
eggs thrown at them, the Council had an emergency meeting and issued a
press statement. Watch this site.
City Press also asked Nesirky if the UN was ready, belatedly,
to say which rebel group was responsible for the killing of Indian
peacekeepers last week. Video here,
from Minute 18:33. (Note that
the audio of the August 23 UN noon briefing was mixed with ambient
sound, seemingly from the stakeout area in front of the Security
adding that since the incident involved UN peacekeepers, there is a
different procedure than for the gang rape of 154 women, which the UN
has attributed to the FDLR. In fact, the Congolese government has
already made arrests in the case of the killing of the UN
peacekeepers by rebels who did not have guns. So why won't the UN
speak about who did it?
* * *
Washes Hands of 90,000 Displaced, As Sex Abuse Sees Slight
5 -- The UN's long and troubled history in the Congo
has become, it seems, a footnote. At an hour-long press conference
Wednesday by the top two UN Peacekeeping officials, more than 40
minutes were devoted to the Israel - Lebanon border. The UN spokesman
barely allowed a single, final question about the Democratic Republic
of the Congo. Video here,
asked about the Congolese Army's operation against the Allied
Democratic Forces rebels in North Kivu, which has displaced at least
Alain Le Roy and his deputy Atul Khare both
emphasized that the UN had not provided logistical support for the
operations. But shouldn't the UN, with such a large and longstanding
presence in the Kivus, have something to say about the protection of
civilians, in the face of this level of displacement?
in response to questioning from Inner City Press, the UN
that Indian peacekeeper Major R. S. Ghumman was under investigation
for sexual abuse / exploitation. Since then, nothing has been said.
On August 4, Inner City Press asked for an update.
arguing that SEA cases have “slightly decreased” - is this what
“zero tolerance” means? - acknowledged that two peacekeepers are
being investigated. He wouldn't confirm the nationality, but said
that the troop contributing countries had been notified.
high handed rule helped turn MONUC into the diminishing MONUSCO,
has gained impunity from the UN system, with a damning OIOS finding of nepotism
being rejected in favor of UNDP drafted whitewash. This hardly has
boosted MONUSCO's, or the UN's or DPKO's, credibility, which is a shame.
UN in Beni 2006, plus
change, 90,000 displaced in 2010 not shown
Congo have complained to Inner City Press that new MONUSCO force
commander Chander Prakash does not speak French, while assigned to
this Francophone country. Inner City Press had asked spokesman
Martin Nesirky, and was told to ask Alain Le Roy. He replied that
Prakash has a “working knowledge” of French, “I tested it
draw down of
MONUSCO began, it seems, by pulling out Francophone battalions from
Senegal and Benin. Is this any way to run a peacekeeping mission? Watch