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UN in Congo Washes Hands of 90,000 Displaced, As Sex Abuse Sees Slight Decrease

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 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, from Minute 59:06.

Inner City Press asked about the Congolese Army's operation against the Allied Democratic Forces rebels in North Kivu, which has displaced at least 90,000 people.

  DPKO chief 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?

Back in mid-July, in response to questioning from Inner City Press, the UN acknowledged 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.

Atul Khare, after 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.

  Alan Doss, whose 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 ca change, 90,000 displaced in 2010 not shown

Sources in the 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 myself.”

The 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 this site.

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Sexual Abuse in Congo Belatedly Confirmed by UN, Financial and Hypocrisy Questions Dodged, Discouraged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- The UN belatedly confirmed on Wednesday that two of its peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are now under investigation for sexual abuse.

   Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm that Indian peacekeeping official Major R. S. Ghumman is under review for exploitation of local Congolese. Haq said, “We'll have to check with MONUSCO,” the UN mission there. Video here, from Minute 5:35.

   Later on Wednesday, Haq went on the UN squawk box and issued a confirmation. One wonders, if MONUSCO so quickly had the information, why was it either not provided to Haq, or not read out by him? If the UN has “zero tolerance” as it says, and is transparent, why does it require a specific question at the UN noon briefing to pry the information out of the UN?

   On another Congo question, whether Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will at least act on an investigative report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services about improper nepotism by Alan Doss, Ban's envoy to the Congo until this month, Haq said there was no update. Doss has been allowed to leave the UN with his pension before any ruling. Zero tolerance? Accountability?

Haq resisted answering, or even taking, other questions.

UN's Ban and Doss in DRC, OIOS and new sexual abuse not yet shown

  Less than a minute after Inner City Press began asking about the new UN Women agency, a seemingly contradictory lease of real estate, Haq refused a follow up question, announcing, "No, No, No, let's have more than one person ask questions." Video here, from Minute 8:25.

But then Haq allowed another questioner to go on over two minutes, with seven follow ups, on another matter. Haq then tried to end the noon briefing, until Inner City Press re-posed its UN Women follow up.

Instead of answering, Haq corrected the pronunciation of the Deputy Secretary General's name, and insisted that full answers had been given about the UN's closing, on two days' notice, of its after school program. Even the DSG has said that alternative space is being sought. But Haq said all answers have been given. Like on sexual abuse and exploitation?

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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