Inaction on Congo Rapes Triggers Belated Trips, Why No Flares or Sat
August 24 -- The UN's belated response to the mass gang rape
of at least 154 women in Eastern Congo became more surreal on
Tuesday. Following up on questions it
posed the previous day, Inner
City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to respond to an NGO's
statement that the UN knew of the location of the FDLR rebels on
31, before the four days of mass rape began. Video here,
by reading out a timeline, that the UN Mission MONUSCO's North Kivu
office only learned of the rapes on August 12. But the rapes took
place less than 20 miles from the peacekeepers' base, and the
international medical NGO was able to access the village from August
repeatedly that the UN peacekeepers conduct “routine patrols.”
But how could these patrols leave them unaware of these mass rapes 20
miles away, from August 4 to August 12? Nesirky on Monday called the
area “densely wooded.” On Tuesday he called it “vast.”
supposedly lack of knowledge -- other
accounts say that the
peacekeepers were aware but did nothing until the rebels left -- is
attributed to the rebels blocking their victims access to the road.
asked what the UN does to ensure that the civilians it is charged
with protection can in fact reach the peacekeepers -- flares?
Satellite phones? Video here,
from Minute 12:15.
suggestions you've made [are] the kind of things people will look
at.” But why only now, after the 154 rapes?
UN in Congo: equipment but protection of
civilians, flares or sat phones, not shown
Now, 12 days
the UN says it became aware of the mass rapes, Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon is sending the Number Two Peacekeeper Atul Khare to the
Congo, and charging his expert on Sexual Violence and Conflict Margot
Wallstrom with belatedly coordinating the UN's response.
while the UN
should clearly investigate its own peacekeepers' inaction, Nesirky on
Tuesday insisted that “it's for the government of the DRC to
does not accept the results of DRC Government investigations: the
government has charged two members of the Pareco militia with killing
three Indian peacekeepers in the Congo, but when Inner City Press
asked Nesirky for the UN's comments, he declined. Video here,
several questions by saying that on Wednesday by audio or video link
up a UN official will brief the Press about the incident. The
(1) the UN knew as
early as July 31,
(2) could have
intervened at latest on August 4, as the unarmed NGO did, and
delayed at least from August 12 onward in going public with the facts
of the mass rape, all have to be answered. Watch this site.
* * *
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?