Rapes, UN Inaction & Dissembling Stretches to Wallstrom,
August 31 -- Of the mass rapes
in Eastern Congo which
occurred from July 30 through August 4, the UN's Special
Representative on Sexual Violence and Conflict Margot Wallstrom only
learn on “August 21-22 through emerging media sources,” Wallstrom
told the Press on Tuesday. Video here,
from Minute 1:50.
asked what steps she had taken, in her six months on the job, to try
to ensure that UN peacekeeping missions like MONUSCO in the Congo
actually inform her of mass rape, rather than leaving her to find out
about in in the newspapers ten days after MONUSCO admits knowing of
it. Video here,
from Minute 14:19.
apparently realizing how bad it looked to learn only from the media,
changed her story and said “not the newspaper,” she had “reports
and calls one by one.” Video here,
from Minute 18:19.
Wallstrom's shifting and self serving story, one call she did receive
was from the Secretary General, calling her into action from where
she was in Europe. Still, as of August 31 she had not gone to the
Congo after the rape story broke, instead sending an underling from
the office she has barely staffed in six months.
that only four of ten posts have been filled; she said there was only
been an office since June. She blamed this on the UN budget process.
a critique of the UN peacekeepers' inaction -- it has now been shown
that the UN knew of at least one of the rapes on July 30, and of at
least 25 by August 10 -- Ms. Wallstrom chided the media to keep the
asked about known rapists still serving in the FARCD Congolese army:
Bosco Ntaganda, an FARDC commander who walks around Goma at will,
Colonel Zimulinda / Zimurinda, who the UN worked with even after UN
expert Philip Alston named him as responsible for 50 rapes, and
ex-warlord and kidnapper and murderer of UN peacekeepers Peter Kerim,
made a colonel in the FARDC. Video here,
from Minute 35:15.
UN's Ban and Wallstrom, action on, even knowledge of, mass rapes not
Wallstrom lamented that some in the FARDC are “people straight from
the forest.” But will her office call for their arrest and
apprehension? Video here,
from Minute 37:22. Wallstrom seemed to say
yes. We'll see.
Wallstrom's "straight outta the forest" comment, an African UN
official tells Inner City Press that Wallstrom's "language" is causing
consternation. Ironically, but
UN, Wallstrom may
accountability if at all not for her inaction, but for her language.
to be established is whether Wallstrom even gave her cell
phone number to Roger Meece and other peacekeeping officials. To be
informed of mass rape known to UN peacekeepers does not require the
full staff of ten.
While Ms. Wallstrom said that the UN can't protect
women in all conflict zones, it seems fair to ask why, while spending
$1 billion, the UN can't protect women from mass multi-day rape 20
minutes from a UN peacekeeping base. Who will be held accountable?
Those who looked away or those who dissembled after the fact? Why not
both? To be continued.
* * *
UN Can't Find E-mail, Won't Say Where Expert Wallstrom
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,
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.