Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On Congo Rapes, UN Admits 240 Victims, Dodges Meece Inaccuracies, Wallstrom Inaction

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 1 -- As the UN tries to slow down or even bury the story of its inaction on the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, the questions keep on coming and the admissions, drip by drip. But belatedly updated victim numbers can't change the inaccurate statements of MONUSCO chief Roger Meece, nor the inaction of Margot Wallstrome, UN envoy on Sexual Violence and Conflict.

    On Wednesday at the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked about

Inner City Press: what the UN knew and when, saying that on 30 July in that e-mail it mentioned a rape in the village of Mpofi, and also a 10 August e-mail mentioning already 25 rapes. These dates are inconsistent, to put it mildly, with what Mr. Meece said to us from the video screen. What are the ramifications? Does the UN deny this... or are we missing something in terms of the inaccuracies?

Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq: As far as that goes, as you’re aware, when the Secretary-General learned of these mass rapes, what he did from our side was to immediately dispatch Atul Khare, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is there right now. We just mentioned what his travels in the area are. He, among other things, was sent there specifically to look into the mass rapes that occurred in the Walikale area. He’ll also look at our response and how we responded to it. He’s there now collecting information and we will see what his evaluation is of that situation when he returns. We expect him back next week and we expect him to report back to the Secretary-General, and also, by the way, to the Security Council, although, of course, their schedule for the month is still being determined.

Inner City Press: But I remember Martin [Nesirky] saying from this podium that here at the Secretariat in New York your office was looking into this 30 July e-mail to find what it was and what it said. Now, the New York Times says a rape occurred. I’m just wondering, has your office found that e-mail? And totally outside of Mr. Khare’s time schedule, what does it mean it mean about what Mr. Meece told us?

Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, we have been looking into that. At this stage, what I would wait for is to see what information Mr. Khare, as the person who is there on the ground, because he is there, he is accumulating data and he will report back. I think we’ll leave it until then. But, yes, we’ve been looking into this and certainly we’re trying to find what the providence of this particular e-mail is.

Inner City Press: Just one more on this. The International Medical Corps now says that the number of women treated in this mass rape incident, they’ve raised their number from 192 to 242. I’m just wondering if the UN, which initially had this 154 number, do you dispute those numbers? Or is the UN just shutting down its communications until 7 September?

Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have for you at this stage any higher number beyond what we’ve given. However, as our presence in that area grows and as there’s been more of a restoration of peace to various areas, freeing up people to feel like they can speak, we’re trying to get more information about what’s going on. So we may find out more information about other attacks. So we would update the numbers accordingly once we get that. But right now at this stage what we’re doing is we’re spreading out into various communities. We’re looking into different reports and we’ll try and see what further information we have.

[The Spokesperson added later that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has put the number of rape victims at higher than 240, with more cases being reported.]

In fact, after the above transcribed questions, the UN released not only an updated number of victims, but a whole press release, in French which a tri-lingual colleague in New York has helpfully translated, below.

UN previously in Pinga, Wallstrom and Meece inaccuracies not shown

Unofficial translation from French

Today, MONUSCO in partnership with the DRC government, has continued to review its activities on the ground in order to better protect the civilian population, while conforming to its mandate.

MONUSCO launched today operation "Shop Window" in the areas of Pinga, Kibua, and Walikale, aimed at reassuring the population and demonstrating its efforts to use all available resources to fulfill its mandate to protect.

This operation follows the observation of increased activities of armed groups in the areas of Walikale and Masisi, who have committed a number of human rights violations and fostered insecurity amongst the civilian population.

Indeed, after the rapes of over 240 victims in Kibua, MONUSCO received additional information concerning other acts that have occurred in Mubi and in the area surrounding Pinga.


Mubi is an area located approximately 36km northwest of Walikale on the axis of Walikale-Kisangani. On August 17, the North Kivu Brigade, MONUSCO police and the joint UNHCR bureau reported clashes between the FDLR and the Mai-Mai Sheka (that occurred) on August 16 and 17 and that resulted in the pillage of several homes, the detention of at least 50 people for looting, and the deaths of 2 FARDC and 7 wounded.

On August 25, "Heal Africa" informed MONUSCO of the 8 rape victims who sought medical attention in their center in Bilobilo. The office of human rights contacted the NGO IMC the same day for additional information. That evening, they received information of the release of all those who had been previously detained. On August 28, the IMC informed MONUSCO that according "Heal Africa" they had 11 rape victims in their center in Bilibilo, but that the number of victims could increase.


Pinga is located 10 km northeast of Masisi. Based on the report from an interpreter who received information from an NGO, military observers made another report on August 18. A team was sent to Pinga on August 30 to verify the information. As a result, they confirmed that 16 rapes had occurred in the area over a period of two weeks: 2 in Bushimo on August 12 and 14---13 in Chuho on August 17 and 1 in Burai.

A patrol was dispatched to each of these locations to gather information and secure the areas. A meeting was set up with the 121st brigade that reinforced (the patrol's) presence and opened up an investigation. One suspect has already been apprehended.

Helicopter patrols in these areas have also been set up and MONUSCO troops have already received instructions concerning their future conduct. On August 30, a joint protection team was sent to Walikale and received a list the names of approximately 40 rape victims.

But what about the inaccurate statements by Roger Meece? And the inaction by Margot Wallstrom? What about accountability? Watch this site.

* * *

On Congo Rapes, UN Inaction & Dissembling Stretches to Wallstrom, Meece, Higher

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, 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.

Inner City Press 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.

Ms. Wallstrom, 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.

  Beyond Ms. 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.

  She acknowledged 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.

Rather than offer 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 focus on the rapists.

  Inner City Press 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 shown

   In response, 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.

Regarding Wallstrom's "straight outta the forest" comment, an African UN official tells Inner City Press that Wallstrom's "language" is causing consternation. Ironically, but quintessentially UN, Wallstrom may face accountability if at all not for her inaction, but for her language.

Footnote: something 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.

* * *

 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.

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -