Rapes, UN Admits 240 Victims, Dodges Meece Inaccuracies,
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.
at the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked about
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?
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.]
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
what about the
inaccurate statements by Roger Meece? And the inaction by Margot
Wallstrom? What about accountability? Watch this site.
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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.
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