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In South Sudan, UN Shuts Wau Gates As Ban Withholds Reports, Ladsous Won't Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 25 -- How low has the UN fallen, in terms of corruption, not stopping rapes, and retaliating against the Press that asks the questions? April 16 eviction here and here. May 14 New York Times here.

  On May 26 amid UN Peacekeeping scandals ranging from rapes and sexual exploitation to the “protection of civilians” crisis exemplified by the failure at Malakal in South Sudan, DPKO chief Herve Ladsous and DFS' Atule Khare held a press conference. Ladsous refused any questions; and the Malakal report promised by the end of May didn't come out for three week.

On June 23, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq a question Ladsous refused on June 22, video of refusal here, June 23 transcript below.

Now the impact of Ban Ki-moon's UN withholding reports about its failures, and his Ladsous refusing to answer Press questions about it, become even more clear. In Wau, as fighting picks up, sources say the UN did not allow into its “Protection of Civilians” base those fleeing the violence. Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping is turning into a travesty and worse.

  Inner City Press hears that while Ladsous may leave before the end of Ban Ki-moon's waning term, it is for the wrong reasons. Not Ladsous' linkage of rapes to R&R, nor failure to protect civilians - instead, France wants to install a FIFTH head of UN Peacekeeping in a row, to bind the Next SG. This should not be accepted. Watch this site.

June 23 transcript here:

Inner City Press: I'd hoped to get Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous to answer on this, but I wanted to ask about MSF and others have said that the problems concerned were not just the reaction of the three contingents in Malakal on the days of the incident but were a sort of more pervasive problem within UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan] of not policing the entry of deadly weapons into… into… into the camp.  And so, I wanted to know, it wasn't… you know, afterwards, he spoke entirely about the troops.  Some people have reported that he's going to repatriate.  I wanted you to respond to that, if, in fact, that is what he was saying, is he going to send people home.  And he seemed to indicate that the UN's reports are now delayed by be looked at by lawyers.  And so what exactly… what's the timeline for the reports being released?  Will they be released in full?  And what are the lawyers looking at in terms… are they redacting things?  What's purpose of this final review?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  There's a normal review process that all reports go through, and this is part of that process.  I think I made it clear that the Board of Inquiry is being finalized, and I presented some of the information from that just yesterday.  And at the stakeout, Mr. Ladsous made clear that there will be some individuals who are going to be sent back.  So, there will be a repatriation of some of the people for… who have been found to have been responsible for some of the problems that were detected.

Inner City Press:  Well, there are quotes in The Guardian saying that entire contingents were absent or… one was sleeping.  One didn't respond and called their capital.  And one responded only when shown a written order.  Is it the whole contingent or just a few individuals?

Deputy Spokesman:  In some cases, it's entirely possible that a contingent could be sent back....   Regarding the earlier question about this, the… each of the reports goes through a fairly standard process, and then so this is where we're at.  But, we're at the process of having it finalized.

Inner City Press:  But, it will be released in full?  Is that…?

Deputy Spokesman:  I'll have to see.  Board of Inquiry reports are internal documents.  We'll put out whatever we can.  Like I said, I shared some of the details with you just yesterday, and we'll see whether we can have something more.

On June 21 while the UN's email wasn't working, a white-wash "Note to Correspondents" was issued. We published it in full, and audibly on June 22 asked Ladsous, what about the weapons allowed into the Malakal camp? Ladsous refused to answer. Video here;

the UN video by Cristina Gallach's DPI cuts off the question.

Earlier on June 22 Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: on Malakal, I saw the note to correspondents last night, and I’m sure you’ve seen the MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) statement.  One thing that didn’t seem to line up is they talk a lot about the time period before the events.  They say weeks before, weapons were being smuggled in.  They say a fence was cut and humanitarian partners told the UN, and nothing was done.  What’s the UN’s response to the idea that, in the weeks running up to it, they didn’t do anything to stop weapons that were ultimately used to kill people being smuggled into the camp?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we certainly have been in touch with Médecins Sans Frontières, and we’ve tried to take some of their concerns on board.  We were in communication with them as these reports are being prepared.  Some of the details are in confusion.  And some of these things, such as the question of whether the gate was cut, I don’t believe we have the full confirmation of that… and so we’re continuing to study matters.  Like I said, the Board of Inquiry is… the report is being finalized now.  I believe there will be some further details as well shared with the Security Council when Under-Secretaries-General Ladsous and Khare meet with them this afternoon.  And like I said, I believe Mr. Ladsous will speak to the press after that. 

  While Ladsous has engaged in censorship for some time, refusing to answer Press questions, Khare on May 25 indicated he would take a question. But apparently the DPKO-DFS partnership or "brotherhood" is not equal: Ladsous' predilections won out.

Khare spoke of recycling in Darfur, and of the Tanzanian battalion agreeing to paternity tests. When Inner City Press asked, quite audible, for Ladsous to clarify his September 11, 2015 linking of rapes to "R&R," he declined. Nothing on Malakal, either. This is Ban Ki-moon's UN.

  After Ladsous refused these audible questions, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about Malakal and, again, about the UNIFIL food re-sale scandal exposed by El Pais. Haq said the investigations are ongoing. This too is Ban's UN.

 This too: on May 18 the annual meeting between the UN Security Council and DPKO Force Commanders which has always before been open - has gone behind closed doors.

  This was particularly inappropriate given the Force Commanders present: rape-central MINUSCA commander Lieutenant General Balla Keïta; Lieutenant General Derick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi (South Africa) of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), Lieutenant General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam (Ethiopia) of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and Major General Michael Lollesgaard (Denmark) of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

  Why is this meeting closed? Why is UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, who linked rapes to R&R, not scheduled for a Q&A Press conference? Even to stakeout the closed meeting, Inner City Press is this year required by DPI's Cristina Gallach and ultimately Ban Ki-moon required to have a UN “minder” as it seeks to speak on background with sources. This is censorship and UN decay.

Still, it seems that at least one member state not on the UNSC this year was asked to leave; others wondered why the meeting was closed, or at least some part of it not left open. Inner City Press said to French Permanent Representative Francois Delattre, apparently NOT on the Security Council's mission to Somalia, "ca doit etre ouvert." He replied, politely, that he wasn't sure.

On May 17, Ban's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the availability of the UN's own count of sexual abuse and exploitation allegations in 2016, 44. Of this, 29 MINUSCA, 7 MONUSCO, 2 MINUSTAH, one each in UNMISS, UNOCI, MINUSMA, UNISFA, UNSCO and UNSMIL (Libya). Is it credible? When is the UN Peacekeeping Q&A?

  After a bill on UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse and exploitation  passed the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Inner City Press on April 29 asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon what he thought of the bill, video here, UN transcript here.

On April 20, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about rapes inside the UN's "protection" camps, UN transcript here.

On April 12 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about an April 13 hearing in the US House of Representatives about impunity for UN rapes. Just as the UN skipped court hearings on bringing cholera to Haiti, Haq's answer did not say that the UN would attend the hearing. Video here.

Inner City Press live-tweeted the House hearing on April 13, in which Aicha Elbasri described Herve Ladsous' cover up in Darfur, and former OIOS auditor Peter Gallo described how top UN officials just USE the OIOS (as they have to de-link Ban Ki-moon from the Ng Lap Seng scandal). Brett Schaefer said there is a need for US training of other countries' peacekeepers. There's truth in that, but one of the DRC Army units implicated in the mass rapes in Minova was US trained.

Chairman Chris Smith cited the UN's "zero tolerance, zero compliance culture;" in the Senate there were strong argument for reducing the UN's funding.

On April 14, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here.


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