Rapes, UN Can't Find E-mail, Won't Say Where Expert Wallstrom
August 27 -- How seriously is the UN taking the scandal of
its peacekeepers' inaction on the mass rapes in Eastern Congo in
early August? Well, at the August 27 UN noon briefing, more than 24
hours after Inner City Press asked about a late July UN e-mail
telling humanitarian workers to stay away from the area due to the
incursion of rebels, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN is
“still trying to track down the e-mail.” Video here,
excuse for not stopping four days of mass rape 30 kilometers from its
peacekeepers' base, and supposedly only learning of the rapes a week
after the fact, is that the area is “densely wooded,” presumably
this description does not apply to the UN's e-mail system. So why the
Inner City Press on August 27 asked Nesirky why the UN Office on
Sexual Violence and Conflict, six months after its ostensible launch,
has filled only two of the six allotted staff positions. Video here,
Minute 25:46. The head of the office, Margot Wallstrom,
reportedly only learned of the mass rapes on the weekend of August
21-22, when they became public in the media.
asked what procedures are in place for UN peacekeeping missions like
MONUSCO to tell Ms. Wallstrom and her office when they learn of rape
as a tool of war, as MONUSCO says it learned on August 12? In ten
days, they couldn't tell even Ms. Wallstrom or her office?
Ms. Wallstrom was in Europe at the time; the statement Nesirky's
office put out in her name did not have a dateline, unlike Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's statement of the same day. Nesirky told Inner
City Press that Ms. Wallstrom's location was “immaterial.” Was
UN's Ban and Wallstrom, 2 weeks to know, e-mail and
location not shown
the UN is trying to make the Congo rape scandal story die down, by
delaying admitting finding the late July e-mail, and belatedly
dispatching to the Congo Ms. Wallstrom and Peacekeeping Deputy Atul
Khare. (Where, correspondents asked again on Friday, is top
peacekeeper Alain Le Roy?)
Council's presidency will soon pass from Russia to the next in the
alphabet, Turkey, a country with its own concerns in the Council and
a Permanent Representative who has to date spoken very little to the
UN press corps. So, some correspondents opine, the UN is trying to
“run out the clock and play for time.” Watch this site.
* * *
DPKO Faces Council Questions, New Element
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
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.
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.
* * *
Email About Rebels Exposes UN Lies, Security Council's Buzzword
Must Extend to Probe of UN
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:
the strongest terms and expression of deep concern
for these attacks;
complete cessation of all acts of sexual violence;
the Government to fight impunity and investigate the matter;
dispatching of Assistant Secretary General Atul Khare.
buzzwords of the UN Security Council was circulated before the leaking,
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.'”
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
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.