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After Ladsous Spoonfeeds Scribes on S. Sudan, FUNCA Asks UN of CAR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 -- While refusing to answer questions about any protection of civilians in South Sudan, or about his role in covering up French soldiers' rape of children in the Central African Republic, the reclusive head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous on July 8 spoon-fed a "small group of reporters" his views on South Sudan. On July 9, Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN about it, video here.

  Ladsous did not speak at the UNTV stakeout, as his also French predecessors Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno did; he refused to answer Inner City Press about any steps to protect civilians at Malakal, nor if Ban Ki-moon's Panel on the CAR rapes has spoken to him yet.

  Instead, hours after Ladsous scurried from the Security Council to the elevator without answering, ever-pliant US Voice of America and Reuters channeled his quotes to a "small group of reporters." This is how propaganda works, and how rapes like in Bangui and Tabit in Dafur and Minova in DRC before it are covered up.

  And so on July 9, Inner City Press for FUNCA asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here:

Inner City Press: on press freedom.  The Sri Lankan President, [Maithripala] Sirisena, some of whose moves have been praised by the Secretary-General, has decided to reinstitute something called the Sri Lankan Press Council that has the power to put journalists in jail for their reporting, only for speech or writing.  And I wanted to know, since groups are condemning this, does the Secretary-General have any view on that?

Spokesman Dujarric:  We'll take… we'll take a look.  Obviously, the Secretary-General [would] urge any country to ensure that laws are there to support press freedom and not impede them.  I'll take a look at the specific case.

Inner City Press:  Possibly on that same front, this is a factual question.  Yesterday there was a consultation… closed-door consultation about South Sudan.  And afterwards, Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous didn't speak at the stakeout, declined questions on the stairway.  But afterwards, there were at least two stories saying he told a small group of reporters that he was requesting an arms embargo on the Government or all sides on South Sudan.  I wanted to know, one, is that the UN position?  Two, where and how did Secretary-General… Under-Secretary-General Ladsous who's… he's a public official.  Like, is this really his position?  Why didn't he go to the stakeout or say…

Spokesman:  I think… [cross talk] Yes, he is, indeed, a public official.  UN officials give interviews left, right and centre.

Inner City Press:  Was this filmed?  A transcript?  Is there some way…

Spokesman:  Matthew, I understand.  There's no… you know, we don't provide transcripts of interviews that journalists do, just as we don't provide transcripts of interviews the Secretary-General does with individual journalists or group of journalists.  What I can tell you that obviously the… you know, the issue of… I mean, I think we've seen in South Sudan the toll that it's taken on civilians since this started more than a year ago, and that if the flow of weapons and equipment is not stemmed, civilians will continue to die in large numbers.  I think the Secretary-General, the UN, feels that it's time to end the supply of weapons and military equipment to all parties on the conflict.  Now, obviously, the decision of an embargo is up to the [Security Council], but it is clearly our position that we feel that continued flow of weapons to all members should stop.

Inner City Press:  Since his two predecessors at DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) used to do these kind of announcements at a stakeout--

Spokesman:  Listen, I think… [cross talk] I think there are…

Inner City Press:  To have that news.

Spokesman:  There are different modes of communicating.  Mr. Ladsous has done numerous stakeouts.

Inner City Press:  When was the last one?

Spokesman:  You can check, but he often does a stakeout, or other senior DPKO officials do a stakeout.  Senior UN officials are all free to use different methods to communicate and we’re also available daily here to answer those questions.

Inner City Press:  One final question.  Has the panel on the Central African Republic sexual abuse issues spoken to Mr. Ladsous yet, and can you describe the status of the panel's work?

Spokesman:  No, the panel will begin its work very shortly.  Who they will speak to, when they will speak, I don't know.  I don't want to know.  It's up to them to do their work independently.  And it will be then… they will then make… report back to the Secretary-General.  The Secretary-General has clearly said that that report will be made public.  And we can see who they've spoken to.

Thank you. [Video here.]

  Ladsous recently had Ban Ki-moon's guards eject Inner City Press from an open meeting. The old UN Correspondents Association, corrupted by AFP and Reuters and VOA into being now the UN's Censorship Alliance, said not a word about it, while the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN, and posted a flier.

  Ladsous is destroying not only UN Peacekeeping -- do a News search, it's mostly about sexual abuse -- but also other sections of the UN world. And the scribes just keep channeling. Watch this site.

  The UN Security Council on July 1 imposed sanctions including a travel ban on six South Sudan individuals, for only one of which the UN has a passport number listed. Travel ban on non-travelers?
  Hours later, UN Secretary General issued a statement condemning an attack on the UN's Protection of Civilians site in Malakal, specifically asking for an investigation from Riek Machar and Johnson Olony.

  But on July 8, after UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous briefed the Security Council behind closed doors about South Sudan, and Inner City Press asked him about Malakal when he came out of the Council, Ladsous refused to answer. Periscope video here for now. (He also refused to answer if the Central African Republic sexual abuse investigation panel has spoken with him yet.)

 So when the Security Council's president for July Gerard van Bohemen of New Zealand came to the stakeout, Inner City Press asked him if Malakal and how the UN can better protect civilians was discussed. He answered that this was not discussed in the consultation; neither was Riek Machar's public comments that fighting will continue as long as Salva Kiir, whose term expires on July 8, remains in power. Periscope video here, for now.

Inner City Press Q: On South Sudan, as to UNMIS, was there a discussion of the incident in Malakal where an IDP was killed? And, Riek Machar has said he’ll keep fighting as long as Salva Kiir stays in power, and that Salva Kiir's term expires today, July 8. Did this come up?
A: Neither of those specific situations have been discussed today.
  How could neither of this -- the Machar comments and especially the killing at Malakal and how the UN could do better -- have been raised by or to Ladsous? We'll be seeking more on this - and on the CAR sexual abuse panel. Watch this site.

 Of the UNSC sancctions, one of those now sanctioned, without a listed passport, is Peter Gadet, regarding whom Inner City Press has previously asked the US State Department, here. The individual WITH the passport is Marial Chanuong Yol Mangok, Passport no.: R00005943, South Sudan. Here's the full list, from US Ambassador Samantha Power's July 1 statement:

"Today, the Security Council took strong action in support of a peaceful end to the conflict in South Sudan by sanctioning six South Sudanese individuals for fueling the ongoing conflict and contributing to the devastating humanitarian crisis in their country.
Major-General Marial Chanuong Yol Mangok; Lieutenant-General Gabriel Jok Riak;  Major-General Santino Deng Wol; Major-General Simon Gatwech Dual; Major-General James Koang Chuol; and Major-General Peter Gadet will now be subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze for their contributions to a conflict that has  left more than 6.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and forced more than 2 million from their homes."

  Back on May 20, six days after the UN's envoy to South Sudan Ellen Loj spoke to the Security Council and to the Press at the Council stakeout on May 14, on the evening of May 20 the US State Department issued a statement about violence in South Sudan:

"The United States condemns the intensified fighting and violence in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei states in South Sudan by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the armed opposition, and forces led by General Johnson Olony that have led to massive new developments and had a devastating effect on civilians.  We call on all armed groups to immediately halt offensive actions taken in contravention of the January 2014 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

Violations of international humanitarian norms, including the outright targeting of civilians already vulnerable to greater harm, especially women and children, and grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all sides are unacceptable.  The international community will hold those who perpetrate such abuses and violations to account.  We call on all sides to silence the guns immediately, permit the UN Mission in South Sudan to investigate the sites of all alleged human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and allow all humanitarian workers immediate, free and unobstructed access to conflicted-affected communities regardless of their locations.

The human, social, and economic costs of this war have been devastating and the long-suffering people of South Sudan will also bear the brunt of the potential long-term consequences of this escalating fighting.  Any damage to South Sudan’s oil infrastructure is an additional life-long wound to the people and jeopardizes South Sudan’s development and rebuilding.  These resources belong to all South Sudanese people and the needs of the nation should be prioritized over the violent intentions of a few.

We will continue to work for a better future for all South Sudanese citizens and condemn those that intentionally jeopardize their collective future."

    Inner City Press on May 15 asked Loj about the UN Mission in South Sudan base in Bentiu, and more generally about proposals to lift UN immunity, called Code Blue, in the wake of the alleged rape of children in Central African Republic by French "peacekeepers" in the Sangaris force, allegedly covered up by French UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous.   (While the Security Council, on which France has one of five permanent veto-wielding seats, has taken no action on this issue, the General Assembly's Fifth (Budget) Committee has summoned Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff to a close door meeting, as Inner City Press first reported.)

  The Council's statement mentions for example the UNMISS camp at Bentiu, but none of the issues raised to and by Loj at her May 14 stakeout and May 15 press conference. Video here.

  Loj acknowledged that the new Bentiu camp she had referred to the day prior was not yet ready, and that SPLA intelligence are sometimes in front of the existing camp. She again noted camp residents, not only in Bentiu but also in Juba, cutting the wires of the fence. Afterward, her and one of Ladsous' spokespeople said that journalists are free to visit the Bentui camp (although Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access have heard differently; we hope to have more on this.)

  Here is the Security Council's May 17 press statement:

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Raimonda Murmokaité (Lithuania):

On 14 May, the members of the Security Council were briefed by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ellen Margrethe Løj on the situation in South Sudan.

The members of the Security Council expressed condemnation at the renewed and ongoing large-scale violence in Unity State caused by the recent Government of South Sudan offensive and resulting in the displacement of more than 100,000 civilians and the suspension of nearly all activity and delivery of aid to populations in the affected areas, over 300,000 civilians, by humanitarian agencies and organizations.  The members of the Security Council further expressed their condemnation of the large-scale attack initiated on 15 May by the SPLM/A (in Opposition) on the town of Malakal, in Upper Nile State. 

The members of the Security Council underlined their grave concern that as a result of violence and increased insecurity since the beginning of the conflict, more than 50,000 internally displaced persons have sought shelter and assistance at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Bentiu, and an additional nearly 25,000 at the UNMISS camp in Malakal, only further magnifying a dire humanitarian crisis.

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the repeated violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement accepted and signed by the Republic of South Sudan and the SPLM/A (in Opposition) on 23 January 2014, and underscored that there is no military solution to this conflict that has now lasted more than 17 months.  

The members of the Security Council called upon all parties to engage meaningfully in the peace process so as to bring about a political solution to the crisis and an end to the conflict.  They acknowledged the IGAD-led peace process and urged renewed regional and international efforts to swiftly implement a common plan and to table a reasonable and comprehensive solution to end the crisis in South Sudan.  In this context, they reiterated their willingness to impose sanctions against those who threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan as established in resolution 2206 (2015), and noted the 24 March 2015 African Union Peace and Security Council Communiqué on South Sudan and the 12 May 2015 African Union Commission Chairperson’s Statement on South Sudan in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their full support for UNMISS peacekeepers and for the vital mandate they are performing under very difficult conditions, including to protect civilians in South Sudan.  They demanded that all parties end intimidation and harassment against UNMISS and humanitarian personnel, cease ongoing restrictions on freedom of movement, and allow UNMISS to fully implement its mandate.  They further demanded full adherence to the Status of Forces Agreement and permission for the deployment of essential assets and enablers currently being blocked by the Government of South Sudan.  The members of the Security Council underscored the importance of close cooperation and communication between UNMISS and the Government in addressing these issues.

The members of the Security Council condemned, and reiterated their demand for an immediate end to, all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.  They reiterated that those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights must be held accountable and that the Government of South Sudan bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, including from potential crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Security Council renewed its calls for the parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate the full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel, equipment and supplies to all those in need and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance in accordance with relevant provisions of international law and United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance.

 Loj said that as a former diplomat she did not favor any blanket lifting of immunity. She said she has taken sexual abuse seriously, then said she is strict about curfew. One was left wondering how the UN will reform itself, if it ever will.  Let's see how you write this up, Loj genially said. Well here it is.

May 14 Video here.

 Loosely transcribed by Inner City Press (video here), Loj replied on May 14

"Let me say what UNMIS has undertaken in collaboration with IOM [the International Organization for Migration]. Primarily the project is primarily financed by the Dutch government. It’s actually a new site for the camp, on higher ground and with better drainage, because the Bentiu camp was totally flooded during the last rainy season. That work is being undertaken as of this week. We are hoping to get it finished…
As far as the fence, the problem with the fence is not that UNMIS is not putting up the fence. It’s that even if the fence were there, the problem with the fence is that the IDPs themselves cross the fence  in order to sneak out...
Yes, we have had troubles with the SPLA,  right outside the gates, and we have tried to solve it...We are doing our utmost to ensure that nobody enters the camp with weapons. We are doing regular searches in all camps … for alcohol and illegal substances…"

  She then said that UNMISS installed lights, but people break them. There was more to ask, including from great reporters on the bround. Inner City Press asked for another question but was told no, to ask on May 15. Watch this site.

After the May 14 stakeout, Loj told a story about UN staff in Liberia telling her all about Inner City Press, which after time she associated with her time on the UN Security Council. She has seen the UN from that position and now two countries.


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