Inner City Press

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On South Sudan's Wau, Ban's Spox Won't Say How Many Killed, Ban Withholds Reports

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- 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.

Despite that, Ban Ki-moon issued a canned statement to some, praising the response. On June 30, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on what you read about Wau, in your absence, I've been asking Farhan [Haq] for what the UN's estimate of the number of people killed in the violence that took place there, because the Government and the opposition have such different numbers.  If access was gotten by this deputy SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General], what's the UN's view of how many people died?

Spokesman:  We'll ask.  It's not… it's not numbers… if those numbers exist, have not percolated up to me or down to me but…

Inner City Press:  Does the UN view it as part of its role given you have two sides…

Spokesman:  No, I'm not debating the basis of your question.  I'm just saying I don't have the information.

  Five hours later, Dujarric left the UN arranging B-roll for a profile, without providing any information. We'll have more on this.

On June 29, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here,

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about Wau… what happened at Wau in South Sudan.  Now the Government has held a press conference saying 43 people were killed.  As I'd asked you, I think, on Monday, the opposition has said… used numbers as high as 400.  What is the UN's… between these two competing claims, one, what is the UN doing in terms of the gates?  And, also, what… primarily, what does it say is the number of people that were killed?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we, at this stage, do not have a reliable number of people who were killed.  And the reason why that is is because of access restrictions.  We, at this point, are trying to get our personnel to as many places as we can.  We have been doing active patrolling where we can in Wau.  But in terms of getting the factual data of casualties, we would need to have better access than we currently have.  And we have been pleading for sufficient access.  But, at this stage, we simply don't have a way of having that count.  And regarding protection of civilians, we are protecting civilians, but it's not at the UN base itself.  Like I've said over the past days, we've established an adjacent site where there are people… basically 12,000 people are being cared for.

Inner City Press:  I guess my question is, if this is one of the countries which the UN has a pretty large peacekeeping mission and a human rights component, how can it be that the UN can't… is allowing these two very divergent numbers to exist?  Is the UN going to come out with a number, or is it just an attempt to not provide a number?

Deputy Spokesman:  We would like to be able to get the information about exactly what's going on on the ground in a sufficient way, but for that, we need access.  This is a problem that we faced in many different circumstances.  If the parties on the ground do not allow access, we can't go about our work.  We need to go about it, but they, in turn, need to provide the access.

June 27 UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: the Secretary-General praised the response.  Then the mission issued a statement clarifying that the gates hadn't been opened.  Some people are saying there are many… you know, people were killed.  What's the estimate?  And how is it… is there a new policy on the UN's part given, I guess, Malakal and other things to not open the gates?  What's the… it seemed to many people strange to say we're protecting civilians by shutting the gates.

Deputy Spokesman:  It's not by shutting the gates.  There will be an evaluation of the situation.  If there's a need to open the gates, that will happen.  Like I just said, if the situation deteriorates further, that would be one of the steps that could be considered.  But it's not the first resort.  The first resort, at this point, is to have a site adjacent to the protection of… a site adjacent to the military base, where we can protect people there.  And, at this stage, we have, I believe, 963 military personnel deployed in Wau, and 90 additional troops have been sent as reinforcements with 60 more ready to move now, subject to flight clearance.  So there's a lot of people available there as well as people who will be trying to augment the forces existing.  We have a protection of civilians site that's been operational in Wau since December 2013.  There's currently, I believe, 219 displaced people sheltered at that site.  But, meanwhile, we have, like I said, thousands more people, basically 12,000 people, being protected in an adjacent area where a security cordon has been established.

Inner City Press:  The opposition to the Salva Kiir Government, have… they come up with a figure which other people say is too high, of people killed.  What's your estimate?  What's UNMISS's estimate of people killed in Wau?

Deputy Spokesman:  We don't have an estimate of people killed.  What we're trying to do is conduct active patrolling in Wau.  The UNMISS personnel are trying to the extent possible to deter any violence against civilians, and we're engaging with parties to… in order for them to return to dialogue.  It's difficult to get a handle on how many people have been killed over the violence.  We have made it very clear that that's the responsibility of the parties and they need to halt all the violence and, once again, return in good faith to dealing with each other in all areas. 

  This came from UNMISS: "UNMISS is continuing to provide protection to approximately 10,000 civilians in Wau, following the outbreak of violence. At this time, UNMISS military forces have created a security cordon around an area adjacent to the UN base and peacekeepers are conducting active patrolling to ensure the safety of the displaced civilians within this area. This area is currently secure and humanitarian partners are providing basic assistance to the displaced people. UNMISS is currently negotiating with the SPLA for access to Wau town to conduct additional patrols to protect the civilian population in the town.
UNMISS wishes to clarify that opening its gates are not a first line of response in the protection of civilians.  Opening the gates is an exceptional measure of last resort to be undertaken only when all other means of protection have been exhausted.  UN bases are not designed to serve as shelters for displaced populations. At this time, UNMISS is continuing to provide a secure environment for those displaced by the violence in Wau adjacent to its base. UNMISS will consider additional measures in line with its mandate should the security situation deteriorate further." So locking fleeing civilians outside of your base is... protecting them. We'll have more on this.

  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.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

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

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]