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On South Sudan, UN Whitewashes It Failure in Malakal, Ladsous Must Go

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 21 -- 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 21 while the UN's email wasn't working, a white-wash "Note to Correspondents" was issues. We publish it in full:

"In answer to earlier questions, the Spokesman can say the following:
 
A Special Investigation and a UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry were convened to review the circumstances of the violence that erupted in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal from 17 to 18 February. During the incident, at least 30 Internally Displaced Persons were killed and 123 others were wounded. A significant portion of the camp was destroyed.

The Special Investigation, which was tasked to look into the external factors that led to the incident, has been completed. The Investigation identified the following factors as having contributed to the attacks: deep rooted historical land disputes, the ‘28 States’ Order and the Eastern Nile State Administrative order of 1 February which dismissed all Shilluk and Nuer civil servants. The Investigation determined that the immediate trigger for the attacks was an attempt by two SPLA soldiers to smuggle ammunition into the site on 16 February. The Investigation also concluded that external armed elements, some in SPLA uniforms, entered the PoC site during the period and took part in the violence and destruction of parts of the site. The Investigation team requested that the Transitional Government of National Unity hold the individuals responsible accountable for the violence. The team also provided a number of recommendations to the Government, regional and international actors -- including the UN -- aimed at preventing such attacks in the future.

A UN Headquarters-led Board of Inquiry, which was tasked to look into the Mission’s response to the incident, is being finalised. The preliminary report of the Board mentions inter alia, that a number of issues contributed to the incident. On the UNMISS response, in particular, there was confusion with respect to command and control and Rules of Engagement and a lack of coordination among the various civilian and uniformed peacekeepers in Malakal at the time of the crisis. The Board also mentioned that there were unrealistic expectations as to the level of protection that UNMISS could feasibly provide to the 48,000 IDPs in Malakal at the time of the incident. UN Headquarters is reviewing a number of recommendations made by the Board in order to minimise the recurrence of such incidents, including the reviewing of the concept of Protection of Civilians sites and the
performance of troop and police contributing countries.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is engaging on the way forward with concerned troop contributing countries.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, will brief the Security Council in this regard on Wednesday, 22 June."

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 Keďta; 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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