Leaves Congo Rape Questions Unanswered, DSS in Hiding, E-mail
August 26 -- While the UN Security
expressed outrage at the mass rapes in the Eastern Congo and the
inaction of the UN Mission MONUSCO, the UN continued to spin and
dissemble and try to deflect blame.
asked the outgoing head of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes about the statement by the NGO
International Medical Corps that it told OCHA on August 6 about the
rapes, not August 12 as the UN has previously said. Video here,
that UN peacekeepers “can't be behind every bush,” and chided
Inner City Press not to focus on MONUSCO, but rather on the FDLR (or
Mai Mai) rebels. But $1 billion a year is being spend on MONUSCO, to
IMC's statement it told OCHA on August 6? Holmes said the OCHA was
informed by IMF, but he wasn't sure about the date.
taken up in the Security Council on Thursday morning, of a July 30 UN
Department of Safety and Security e-mail circulated throughout
MONUSCO that the rebels were in the area and that it was not safe for
humanitarians, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to
release the e-mail, and others to show how frequent such warnings
are. Video here,
don't think we need to count individual e-mails,” before predicting
that DSS will not release it. Inner City Press asked for a briefing
by DSS chief Gregory Starr, who has yet to hold a press conference
since assuming his Under Secretary General job. I'm sure he and his
people heard your request, Nesirky said. Yeah, sure.
transcriptions of the August 25 comments by MONUSCO chief Roger
Meece, like a defense lawyer trying to beat a perjury charge, as one
correspondent later put it. But there are more and more questions
about what Meece told the Press - and, at least indirectly, the
asked Russia's Vitaly Churkin, this month's Council president, about
the closed door briefing given by the UN's Raisedon Zenenga. Video
from Minute 2:27. Churkin said there were many questions
UN's Holmes in Kivu, "behind every bush," Aug. 6
warning to OCHA not shown
Press asked if the Council discussed what type
of communications equipment -- satellite phones and flares have been
Inner City Press' suggestions -- might have prevented the mass rapes,
and might help in the future. Video here,
from Minute 4:12.
describe the discussions, but Susan Rice did, in response to
questions from Inner City Press. From the US Mission transcript, video here
Press: ...there was in fact, DSS email saying rebels, where
does it say that MONUSCO didn't in fact go-we were told that on
August 7 they went on a patrol in another direction away from the
villages. What does the U.S. think of that and what steps should be
The U.S. is asking, and I asked myself, that very question,
based on the New York Times report, if there was in fact some
understanding of insecurity or rebel presence, what response did
MONUSCO take and what response should they have taken. And we await
the answer to that question.
Press: What about that email?
We didn't ask for the email. I'm less interested in, you
know-I believe there was such an email. I have no reason to doubt
it. The question is, you know, what was done in response and why...
Press: On DRC, what does the U.S. think that MONUSCO could do in
terms of communicating with civilians? People talked about satellite
phones, flares, what are the ideas you have? And on Sudan, it's up to
you. The Sudan question is just the Government of Sudan or the local
authorities have said they want to move the Kalma camp to another
location. What does the U.S. think of that and of the expulsion of
UN personnel from West Darfur, including for distributing rape
detection kits as is alleged from the UNHCR people in West Darfur? Does
the US-what's the response to I guess the moves of local
authorities to make those expulsions.
Focused on Congo. We did discuss, and I myself raised in the
form of brainstorming, some possible ideas for how to enhance
communication between remote villages where there's no cell phone
coverage and you know, a company forwarding operating bases of
MONUSCO. And I don't want to put any of them out as considered
proposals, but certainly radios and satellite phones are among the
tools out there that could conceivably be utilized. How feasible they
are, whether the radio coverage in dense bush is feasible, at what
distance, whether the costs of cell phone-or satellite phone-usage
are prohibited, I don't have the answers to those. But those are the
kinds of ideas certainly that members of the Council are starting to
generate. We expect further insights and ideas from MONUSCO and
we're going to come back to this and insist that there be both a
greater understanding than I frankly feel exists in the Council as to
the extent and the limitations of MONUSCO's ability to communicate
with outlying villages and then some very specific steps that can be
taken to enhance that communication.
noted, Inner City Press also asked andSusan Rice also
answered questions on Sudan, which we will
separately report on. Watch this site.
* * *
Rapes, DPKO Faces Council Questions, New Element
August 26 -- On the Congo rape scandal, the UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations faced a rare barrage of questions from some
Security Council members on Thursday morning. Inner City Press is
told that DPKO has been asked for a copy of the July 30 e-mail noting
the incursion of rebels into the area the 154 rapes would take place,
and telling humanitarian workers to stay away.
Council press statement, the initial four elements of which Inner
City Press exclusively
published before the meeting, is being
expanded with a fifth paragraph. Ambassador Susan Rice, it is said,
will speak to the Press after the meeting and the Statement, to be
read by Russia's Vitaly Churkin, the Council president for August.
concerned with protection of civilians include Mexico, whose
Permanent Representative Claude Heller said, even in this week's
Council meeting on piracy, that “Mexico condemns and rejects these
acts of sexual violence which cannot remain unpunished and deserve a
categorical condemnation from the international community,” and
“the Security Council should address in the appropriate time this
if this is not
the appropriate time, when is? Watch this site.
* * *
Rapes, Email About Rebels Exposes UN Lies, Security Council's Buzzword
Must Extend to Probe of UN
August 26 -- Amid the growing scandal of
the mass rapes on
Congo, 30 kilometers from the UN peacekeepers of MONUSCO, the UN
Security Council is belated set to meet on August 26. In advance of
the meeting, Inner City Press, which was the first to
report the scheduling of the meeting, exclusively obtained the
the planned Council press statement that were circulated to members
on August 25:
in the strongest terms and expression of deep concern
for these attacks;
for complete cessation of all acts of sexual violence;
on the Government to fight impunity and investigate the matter;
the dispatching of Assistant Secretary General Atul Khare.
buzzwords of the UN Security Council was circulated before the
late of August 25, of news of
e-mail alert from the United Nations Department of Safety and
Security [which] was sent to United Nations staff members on July 30,
the day the rapes began. The message warned them to stay away from
the area — part of Walikale, in the North Kivu Province of Congo —
because it had been taken over by rebels. 'Everyone got that e-mail,'
said an officer from a humanitarian organization in the area, who
spoke on the condition of anonymity on strict instructions from the
organization. 'That rebel elements were active in those specific
villages, and humanitarian workers should not go there.'”
in the August 25 video link up of MONUSCO chief Roger
Meece with correspondents at UN headquarters immediately concluded
that Meece had “lied through his teeth,” as more than one of them
put it. Others said that the UN lying went beyond Meece, to nearly
all communications on the rape scandal.
August 23 and
24, after Inner City Press first asked about the rapes at that day's
UN noon briefing, Spokesman Martin Nesirky claimed that the first
MONUSCO and the UN knew of the rebels' incursion and the rapes was on
August 12. He repeated this date again and again: “August 12,
Matthew, August 12.”
Meece carefully moved away from this account, acknowledging that
there was some knowledge -- vague, as he put it -- of rebels in the
area. But, according to Meece, when the MONUSCO peacekeepers went
out on patrol on August 7, they went the other way, away from the
site of the rapes.
they “all” got the e-mail on July 30 saying that rebels were in
the specific villages and that humanitarian workers should stay away,
both accounts appear in a different light, as does the UN
peacekeepers' inaction from July 30 on, and decision to head away
from the village with their patrol.
humanitarian workers should run the other way from rebels intent on
rape,” one correspondent told Inner City Press. “But if the UN
peacekeepers, charged with protecting civilians, won't do so, and lie
about what they knew and when, somebody has to get fired. Don't
is the UN, so
one never knows. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, through
Nesirky and not in person, that he is outraged by the rapes. But will
he be outraged by his own officials' lying? What will he do about it?
representative William Cragin of the International Medical Corps was
initially quoted that the UN and aid workers knew about the rebels'
presence from July 30 on, when IMC in California was called on August
25, the group's Margaret Aguirre said we work with the UN agencies
and want to continue to work with them.
Ms. Aguirre said, Cragin was traveling and unavailable to speak, for
the foreseeable future. As Inner City Press asked Meece in revealing
this communication, this smacks of explicit or implicit retaliation
and cover up which must going forward be acted on.
dispatched ASG Khare and his Sexual Violence and Conflict envoy
Margot Wallstrom to the Congo. Khare, previously the UN's top
official in Timor Leste, dodged the Press on August 23.
summer, in a rare media availability beside top UN peacekeeper Alain
Le Roy -- not heard from yet on this DPKO scandal -- Khare answered
Inner City Press' question about the displacement of tens of
thousands of people by fighting in the Congo by insisting the UN had
not offered logistical support to the Congolese Army in that case.
But isn't the UN supposed to be concerned about the plight of
civilians? Or do they run the other way?
when asked what she has actually done about the Congo and the issue
of rape as a tool of war since assuming her position, offered little
more than platitudes. Her lack of action on this incidence of mass
rape, since July 30, or August 4, or August 7, or August 12, calls
into question the seriousness of the office and mandate,
necessitating a full review and changes.
August 26, how the Security Council members deal with this new
UN's Ban and US' Rice, action on
MONUSCO's misdeeds and UN misstatements not yet shown
members may argue that the information is
too new, and try to stick to the earlier circulated elements, that
would be nearly complicity in MONUSCO's and the presenters' misdeeds.
always mechanically offers unqualified support to the UN peacekeeping
operations it has sent out into the field. When, for example, UN
peacekeepers are found to be involved in sexual abuse or
exploitation, the Council rarely takes it up, preferring to refer
obliquely to this in some future statement.
meeting or Statement purporting to address the mass rapes must
address the role of MONUSCO's inaction. One or more elements would
have to be added to the above, such as an independent outside
investigation of MONUSCO's action and failures to act, and UN
officials' statements since July 30.
Press asked Meece about on August 25, Belgium's foreign minister has
already called for an investigation. But now the Council, which has
only recently ordered investigations into the Gaza
the shoot out between Israel and Lebanon and the violence in
Kalma Camp, seems required to set in motion an investigation of the
UN's own actions. We'll see -- watch this site.
Inner City Press has repeatedly been told since it began asking
about the Congo rapes on August 24, France is the Security Council
“lead” on all things DRCongo. Questions to the French charge
d'affaires have not, to put it mildly, resulted in response of the
seriously seemingly required.
State Hillary Clinton, as pointed
out by two
blogs, traveled to Goma in the DRC to show the Obama
seriously about the issue of rape as a tool of war.
Permanent Representative to the UN Susan Rice has been at the
Security Council this week, she has not take any Press questions on
the unfolding scandal. Earlier this year, when she declined to
go on and skipped both the planned and rescheduled
and shortened Council trip to the DR Congo, she did not explain.
issued a written statement on the
night of August 24, followed by tweets from her personal
AmbassadorRice Twitter account about a US Mission's basketball win
and shout-out to Jason Lang, team MVP.
it has been
argued to Inner City Press that such sports tweets are humanizing,
and Inner City Press does not disagree, now that misdeeds and
misspeaking by the UN itself have been revealed, what will Susan
Rice, Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration do about it? Each
Council member state faces a similar moment of decision. This is a
test: watch this site.
* * *
to Probe UN Inaction on Congo Rapes, UNSC to Meet Aug 26, NGO
August 25 -- Two days after the UN belatedly
of its knowledge of the mass rape of at least 154 women in Eastern
Congo less than 20 miles from the UN MONUNSCO Peacekeepers' base,
Roger Meece of MONUSCO took questions from the Press. Meanwhile,
sources tell Inner City Press that the Security Council will hold
emergency consultations on the rape on August 26.
the UN on
August 24 had denied that MONUSCO had been aware of the presence in
the area of the FDLR rebels, Meece admitted that they became aware on
July 31, before four days of mass rape. He said that MONUSCO's patrol
on August 4 went away from the village of rape, and that the
International Medical Corps only told the UN about the rape on August
asked Meece to respond to a call by the foreign minister of Belgium,
the former colonial power in the Congo, for an investigation
including of MONUSCO failure to protect civilians. Meece said he was
not aware of the call. Video here.
International Medical Corps' 'California office found Margaret
Aguirre saying that “We work closely with the UN agencies and we
want to continue working with them.”
Cragin, who has said
the UN knew of the rebels' presence still at least July 31, is now
traveling and unavailable. Inner City Press asked about this, and
Meece said if the implication was retaliation or cover up, he rejects
it. We'll see.
asked Meece about his Mission's failure to protect civilians from the
Lord's Resistance Army, which the UN has blamed on the withdrawal of
nine Indian helicopters. (India tells Inner City Press they gave the
UN fore-notice, and still have other copters in the Congo.)
referred to the loss of copters, and said that the remaining ones had
many uses and weren't suited for patrolling “densely wooded”
Press asked for the second day in a row, is the UN going to communicate
with the civilians it is
charged with protecting?
Meece and UN's Ban, investigation of MONUSCO
inaction not yet shown
Meece said there's cell phone service in
only one of the villages. Here's a suggestion: with the UN spending a
billion dollars on MONUSCO, maybe it could leave better communication
in place? In the interim, flares or satellite phones?
Council still has not issued any statement. Multiple Council sources,
however, told Inner City Press that there will be consultations on
August 26 at 10 am with an eye toward issue elements to the press.
after Number Two Peacekeeper Atul Khare and Sexual Violence and
Conflict envoy Margot Wallstrom have assessed the situation, the
Council may issue a more formal statement.
* * *
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.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
are listed here,
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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