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UN in Mali Counts Its 5 Dead, Ladsous Berated Malians For Not Thanking France

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- When UN Peacekeepers are determined, by the UN itself, to have killed three civilians in Mali by using excessive force, what accountability is there?  None - and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on April 2 refused to answer questions about his own responsibility. Video here. Vine here. 

  Now among the victims in Sevare in central Mali are at least five UN-associated personnel, the UN Mission announced on August 8, giving no count of non-UN victims but added that four UN-associated staff were rescued (MINUSMA release below).

  On August 7 at the UN's noon briefing Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric if it was true that a UN staff member was killed in an attack in Sevare in Mali, and another taken hostage. From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: I was kind of expecting you to have readout on this attack in Mali on the hotel in Sevare.  Are… are UN peacekeepers involved in the hotel, what is the status?

Spokesman Dujarric:  The information we received from our Mission is that obviously they are aware of these reports of an attack by unknown armed men near the hotel in Sevare, Mopti.  The Mission is closely monitoring the events and following up with its office in Mopti, as well as with the Malian authorities.  So the situation is ongoing.  As soon as they report back to us we be will able to share information with you.

Inner City Press:  Actually because the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has said that one of its nationals is involved and held hostage.  Are there Ukrainians serving with MINUSMA in Sevare?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I’m not able to answer that from this podium at this time.

 So Dujarric would not answer "for this podium." But throughout the afternoon of August 7, Dujarric did not answer in any other way. Nor was any statement received from the MINUSMA mission, despite an Inner City Press request and past practice.

  Amid increasing reports of the UN staffer's death, allegedly confirmed by MINUSMA - which sent out no announcement -- Inner City Press re-inquired with the spokesperson's office and obtained a hard-copy only statement, re-typed below. Then the UN Spokesperson's Office closed. Ladsous, it seemed, remained on vacation.

 On  August 8, MINUSMA put this out, yet to be re-sent by the UN spokesperson's office:

"MINUSMA is relieved at the successful conclusion early this morning of the operation carried out by the Malian forces and congratulates them on it.
MINUSMA reiterates its strong condemnation of the despicable terrorist attack that took place in Sévaré and deplores the loss of lives caused by this criminal act. The Mission extends its condolences to the Malian Government and the Malian Armed Forces, as well as to the governments and families of the victims, who include personnel of companies contracted by MINUSMA. It wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.
The situation regarding the MINUSMA-associated personnel is as follows:
- Four (4) were rescued at the Hotel Byblos as soon as the operation had ended and were taken to MINUSMA’s office in Sévaré, where they remain while waiting to be transferred to Bamako. They are nationals of South Africa (2), the Russian Federation (1) and Ukraine (1). They are all in good health. The attackers did not detect their presence in the hotel and MINUSMA was in permanent contact with them throughout the attack and until its end.
- Five (5) lost their lives and an inquiry is underway to establish the exact circumstances of their death during the events: one Malian (a driver working for a company contracted by MINUSMA), one Nepalese, one South African and two Ukrainians. Arrangements are in place to take the victims’ bodies to Bamako.
MINUSMA will continue to cooperate and to coordinate its efforts very closely with the Malian authorities as well as with the representatives of the international community in Bamako in the context of the ongoing follow-up operations, including the Malian authorities’ investigations into the attack.
MINUSMA remains determined and dedicated to fulfilling its tasks in the implementation of its mandate in support of Mali, its government and its people."

 Rest in peace.

 Back on August 3, MINUSMA issued a statement on two separate attacks against Mali's Army and National Guard, which the Free UN Coalition for Access translates here:

“MINUSMA condemns with vigor the cowardly terrorist attacks against the National Army and security forces of Mali by unidentified armed men in the center and north of the country. The first attack targeted the Malian Armed Forces on August 1 in an ambush on the  Diabaly-Nampala axis, six kilometers from Toule in the commune of Nampala, in the Segou region. The second attack was carried out early on August 3 against a unit of the National Guard based in Gourma Rharous, 120 kilometers east of Timbuktu.

  “MINUSMA extends its condolences to the Government, Army and security forces of Mali as well as to the families of the victims. It wishes for a fast recovery for the wounded. MINUSMA underlines again the urgency of advancing the peace process with the goal of assuring that the government and the parties act together with the support of the population to stop the terrorist threat posed to Mali and its people.”

  Back on July 24, after a mortar attack on the UN Peacekeeping camp at Aguelhok that caused no casualties, MINUSMA issued a statement.

  One might note: the UN speaks out strongly about a mortar attack on it which caused no damage, while in Burundi as opposition figures and civilians are killed, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from an undisclosed location called the elections peaceful, and is for now silent on the attack on human rights defender Mbonimmpa.

  On July 2, after an attack 45 kilometers from Timbuktu killed six peacekeepers and injured five, MINUSMA issued a statement which the Free UN Coalition for Access translates here:

   “This morning around 9 am, a patrol of the MINUSMA forces was the subject of an armed attack by unidentified assailants on the Goundam - Timbuktu axis, some 45 kilometers southwest of Timbuktu. Preliminary reports indicate that six peacekeepers were killed and five more were wounded. Their evacuation is underway. Two MINUSMA vehicles were destroyed.

"Reinforcements from MINUSMA are en route to the site of the attack and attack helicopters have also been deployed from Timbuktu for air support. Mongi Hamdi, the head of MINUSMA, said 'I condemn this new terrorist attack against our Blue Helmets. Those responsible for this crime should be identified and brought to justice without delay.' The chief of MINUSMA extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a fast recovery for the wounded. He recalls that the UN Security Council in Resolution 2227 of June 29, 2015 renewing the mandate of MINUSMA declared itself read to consider sanctions against those who launch attacks against MINUSMA or threatened to do so.”

  The reference to attack helicopters is noted.

After his May 16 press conference in Bamako, Ladsous said the UN's report about its killings in Gao will never be released; follow up question here. During the press conference, tellingly, Ladsous berated Malians for not sufficiently thanking... France and its Force Serval. Audio here, Minute 27:52. 

  Ladsous said, referring to criticism of him and his mission by Mali's president and others at the signing ceremony the day before, "Did I hear a single word of thanks for France and its Operation Serval? No." (Translation by Free UN Coalition for Access.)

   In this use of his UN post to serve France, for which he was a (most undiplomatic) diplomat for decades, this is similar to Ladsous' much worse intervention into the process of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in trying to get fired OHCHR whistleblower Anders Kompass, who exposed reports of French Sangaris Force soldiers raping children.

  This appears in the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling reinstating Kompass, at Paragraph 9. It was not contested by OHCHR.  Ladsous, breaking with his striking refusal to answer Press questions, told Inner City Press, "I deny that." Video here.

 But Ladsous has not explained or answered what he is denying: getting involved in l'affaire Kompass at all, or just the wording? Ladsous was not asked this question in Bamako.

 On May 18, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq who Ladsous was speaking for:

Inner City Press: Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous of DPKO held a press conference in Bamako over the weekend.  There was some criticism, by actually the President of Mali, of the mission.  But, I wanted to ask specifically, in his press conference, he said that he sort of chided, he said:  Was there even a word of thanks for its operation in Sangaris?  No.  Isn't that curious?  And I wanted to know, in what capacity was he saying that?  Is the UN?  Does the UN have a position on Malians not being sufficiently grateful to France or was he speaking in some other capacity?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have any real comment.  I would just refer you to the text of his statements.  And if you have anything further, you can ask our colleagues in peacekeeping.

  Later on May 18, a well placed African Permanent Representative said "Ladsous should resign."

 On May 10, two UN Peacekeepers were wounded in Mopti in Mali, see below.

 Now Ladsous is under fire for appearing in a UN Dispute Tribunal ruling as urging the firing of the whistleblower who exposed rapes by French soldiers in the Central African Republic. Ladsous denied it - to Inner City Press - but the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights did not dispute it. Accountability?

 On May 10 "around 1 pm, the forces of MINUSMA on patrols hit a mine or an improvised explosive device 25 kilometers from Tenenkou, in the region of Mopti,” MISUMSA said in a statement.

  “Two blue helmets were seriously injured by the explosion and their evacuation to the MINUSMA hospital in Timbuktu was underway, MINUSMA said.

   “The head of MINUSMA Mongi Hamdi strongly the attack against the peacekeepers and emphasized that MINUSMA remains more determined than ever to implement its mandate in support of Mali and its people.”

 On May 8, the UN announced what the Press already knew, that Mbaranga Gasarabwe, a Rwandan national, is moving from the Department of Safety and Security in New York to become Hamdi's deputy in Mali. We wish her well.

Tellingly, Ladsous refused an invitation to attend a "protection of civilians" high level event in Rwanda in May, click here for that scoop.

 Back on April 27 the MINUSMA mission issued a statement that the Platforme group attacked the town of Manaka, loosely translated by Inner City Press below. But how does UN Peacekeeping killing civilians, then its boss refusing to answer or even take questions about it, impact the UN's credibility?

 Here is our loose translation of the MINUSMA press release of April 27:

SRSG Mongi Hamdi called for the armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and return to their positions. “This resurgence of tension puts in jeopardy all efforts to restore durable peace in Mali,” Hamdi said. MINUSMA said that on Monday near noon the mission learned of an attack launched by the MAA-Platform and GATIA groups on the town of Menaka, held by elements of the Coordination of Movement of Azawad (CMA). MINUSMA said it deployed helicopters to evaluate the situation.

Hamdi went to Nouakchott on April 26 to meet the representatives of the CMA, who reaffirmed their adherence to the peace process under way, and confirmed their intention to initial the agreement.

Two months of intense negotiations involving all of the parties with a view to put an end to the Malian crisis could be threatened. These actions are a grave violation of the ceasefire accords reiterated in the declaration of February 19, 2105,” Hamdi said in his statement.

Hamdi also cited the UN Security Council's statement of February 6 which threatened the imposition of targeted sanctions on anyone who returned to hostilities and violated the ceasefire.

I therefore appeal for calm and reason for the benefit of all Malians. The only solution to this crisis is through the route of dialogue. I remain convinced that all the parties will show wisdom and reason and sign this historic peace agreement,” Hamdi said.

  Here's what Inner City Press asked the UN about Darfur on April 27:

Inner City Press: on Darfur, I saw the clarification put out by UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur], but the Government of Sudan is saying that the UNAMID peacekeepers killed seven civilians, and I wonder, what… beyond just UNAMID putting out a press release, some of which in the past have been press releases that the UN has ultimately walked away from, is there an intention to do the type of report that was done in Mali when people were killed or in Haiti when people… when people were shot at?

Deputy Spokesman Frahan haq:  On that, I actually expect that we will have a statement from the Spokesman for the Secretary-General responding to the latest events in Darfur.  So, I'll wait until… until we get that.

Inner City Press:  But, is the protocol if a Member State alleges that UN peacekeepers have killed civilians to do such a report, or is there no such protocol?

Deputy Spokesman:  Like I said… first of all, I… as you know, you're aware of the press release from UNAMID, which is their clarification of the situation, and then beyond that, we do expect to have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson.

  But when the statement came it did not even mention the government's allegations. Khartoum's credibility may be low - but what about Ladsous'? We'll have more on this.


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