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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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UN's Holmes Tells Harrowing Congo Tales, Reporters Referred to FDLR's Mission in NY

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 12 -- Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including by government troops, have become so routine that they are rarely reported anymore, UN Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes told reporters on Wednesday. "People shrug and say, it's the DRC, what do you expect?"

            Inner City Press asked Holmes about the transportation of government troops and ammunition by the UN's Mission in the Congo, MONUC. Holmes acknowledged this happens, but emphasized that MONUC won't join fighting it hasn't have a roll in planning. And it is trying to train the Congolese Army in human rights.

            But Inner City Press' sources in the DRC point out that the UN's Mission in the Congo, MONUC, plays its own role in impunity. For example, its report on human rights violations during the fighting in Kinshasa has been swept under the carpet for week now, reportedly to not stir up trouble while Jean-Pierre Bemba is considering returning, and MONUC continues to protect Bemba's guard. Five weeks ago the finished report was shown to the DRC government; still, nothing has been released.

UN's John Holmes: a man on the move

            Holmes traveled last week to the Kivus, including the Panzi hospital specializing in treating victims of sexual violence. Holmes reported that, at the Panzi hospital at least, 90% of reported rapes are committed by the Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda, the FDLR. A correspondent asked who is arming the FDLR, and Holmes demurred, saying that the weapons used are "artisanal." An hour later, Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson was asked:

Where can I get information about where the FDLR get their arms supplies? I asked Mr. Holmes earlier and he didn't know about it.

Spokesperson: That is not a question for us to answer.  You can contact DPKO or certainly their own mission.

            There is only one problem: as a rebel force which sneaks out of "the bush" to rape woman and terrorize villages, there is no FDLR's "own mission" in New York, at least not legally...

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  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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

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