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In Mali, Shootout in Kidal, Serval Leaves UN Out, MINUSMA Responds

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 8 -- When the MINUSMA mission of the UN in Mali was being created, Inner City Press repeatedly asked UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous about the MNLA rebels and their strong-hold Kidal. Ladsous refused to answer, April 25 video here; part of video compilation here.

  Now despite an agreement reached in Burkina Faso -- credited to Blaise Campaore, with little UN involvement -- there's been a shoot out between the UN in Kidal and “armed attackers.”

  Inner City Press on July 8 put questions both to MINUSMA and to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky in New York. Video here, from Minute 21:50.

  While Mali's army has been quoted about rock throwing crowds, Nesirky read a statement from MINUSMA about a shootout which left one UN staff with a gunshot wound to his leg.

  Online, MINUSMA on Sunday Tweeted a link to an article about biometric cards for the election still scheduled for July 28. Once clicked, the article was from the French army's Serval server, and didn't mention any UN role in the distribution of the cards or in the process.

So the Free UN Coalition for Access, interested in the responsiveness of UN agencies and missions, asked through its new @FUNCA_Questions twitter feed about the UN role. MINUSMA to its credit responded, with a link to a press kit with a photo of envoy Bert Koenders wearing noise suppressant headphones on a UN helicopter.

  The response was appreciated between as noted, Ladsous refuses questions, his four spokespeople have not answered a simple questions about the DR Congo for nine days, and Koenders is, well, like Ladsous.

  But someone in MINUSMA understands that the UN should respond to inquiries. Will Ladsous and Koenders try to shut it (and other Missions' responses) down?

 Then again, Ban on Monday named as one of Koenders' two deputies the humanitarian David Gressly, noting he went to school in Arizona. That's a bit like Mali, at least the weather, right? Watch this site.

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