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UN Peacekeeping Dodges on Mercenaries, Wastes on Meece's Mills in Congo

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 13, updated with UN non response -- The UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Congo, MONUSCO, uses private military contractor Saracen, owned by the brother of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, and for a week has refused to explain why.

  The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, headed by the fourth Frenchman in a row Herve Ladsous who now proposes the use by the UN of drones, reportedly to be provided by French firm Thales, only confirmed the use of Saracen late on April 11, two days after Inner City Press asked, and after Inner City Press published the contract numbers.

  Yet on April 13, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky insisted that DPKO had explained why MONUSCO has hired a private military contractor owned by Uganda's president's relative. There was been no explanation, nor accounting of DPKO's other mercenary use.

  Now from the field comes this story of pervasive corruption, nepotism and sleaze at MONUSCO, after SRSG Roger Meece in March 2011 announced a Quick Implementation Project in mass rape victimized Walikale as a form of "give-back" to the community which the UN resists in Haiti, into which it introduced cholera:

A new scandal is engulfing MONUSCO in the wake of the infamous mass rape of 300 women and girls in Walikale area in July 2010 right under the noses of the UN peacekeepers, exposed by the Inner City Press. Two years later, not only have perpetrators of this crime not been brought to justice but the a scandal is brewing up where Roger Meece MONUSCO is adding "insult to injury" to the victims of this mass rape by misappropriating the money promised by MONUSCO for projects designated to help the victims of this mass rape.

1. Roger Meece decided in March last year to spend additional $25,000 on installation of five Chinese imported rice / maize grilling mills in five villages in the Walikale area allegedly for the benefit of the raped women. The so called Quick Implementation project (QIP) was announced by Meece with fanfare on the International Women Day on March 8, 2011 and was supposed to be completed within the QIPs statuary requirement of maximum of three months i.e. but no later than by the beginning of June 2011. The announcement ceremony in Walikale was designed as the great publicity and propaganda stint and the excellent photo opportunity for Roger Meece and international and local mass media were invited to witness the “generosity” of MONUSCO towards the victims.

2. But very soon after this highly publicized ceremony, Roger Meece lost his interest in the project as he was said by UN staff to prefer to stay for long periods in New York rather than in Kinshasa and left this case with his trusted Scandinavian advisers: Swedish Chief of Staff Mr. Ola Almgren (under whose supervision of all QIPs projects remain) and the Danish Chief of Personnel. Not being supervised by their boss, Roger Meece, the first thing the CoS did was not extent the contract of the officer responsible in Goma for the implementation of the project and who they abruptly sent home in June 2011.

They even did not allowed this officer to stay for additional three months on his own, as a UN Volunteer to facilitate the project. Apparently the post was promised to the friend of Ola Almgren in Kinshasa.Almgren is a "gray eminence" in the Meece's court and is bragging that is a friend of the new D/SG Jan Eliasson and therefore untouchable.

3. Rape victims emboldened by Mr. Meece's solemn promises were waiting in vain but when the promised mills were not arriving to villages by the end of June and instead were dumped in the nearby Indian military base, the rape victims staged a few demonstrations in front of the Indian military base in Walikale. However, their protests were quickly squashed by MONUSCO with the full collusion of the local Administrative authorities who threatened and intimidated them for expressing publicly their discontent with MONUSCO.

4. Now more than one year has passed and the above QIP project is in tatters, the money allocated has been misappropriated and the atmosphere of the scandal surrounding MONUSCO's failure to implement the project is growing. The project is the subject of jokes among UN staff in Goma as 'the Endless Implementation Project' instead of the Quick Implementation Project, as it will probably never be implemented as solemnly promised by SRSG Meece, as it is already more than a year behind schedule and the resources allocated for the project are said to have been wasted or simply stolen.

Recently, one of the five mills had been apparently installed in one of the villages but soon became dysfunctional due to the lack of fuel and spare parts. In the meantime, the rest of what came to be known as "the Meece Chinese mills" are getting rusted and dysfunctional left abandoned inside the Indian military base. The money has been squandered and victims try in vain reach MONUSCO with a complaint. However MONUSCO did everything possible to stop them from complaining through their local agents / employees in the field.

5. In the meantime, the embarrassed Meece, amid the growing scandal, tries to rescue his reputation and what remains from the project by attempting to force the North Kivu based Indian brigade to install the mills free of charge. But the Indian military resist as this is a civilian project and they want to be paid for the job for which somebody already took or misappropriated the UN money. Besides, they think that Rogers Meece's idea to install the heavy duty Chinese mills run by generators on expensive and scarce fuel in the middle of the jungle is simply a crazy idea. They would prefer to install their own Indian made self-sustainable water mills that are much cheaper and more suitable for operating in a tropical jungle terrain.

In the end, MONUSCO not only failed to implement its protection of civilians mandate, but is adding insult to injury to the victims by wasting the resources allocated for improving their fate. As the Meece's Mills scandal is growing there is no end to sufferings of the Walikale victims of the mass rape, and the corruption, irresponsibility and impunity of the MONUSCO senior management continues.

  And so it goes in the UN of Ban Ki-moon and Herve "The Drone" Ladsous. Again, how do they justify hiring a private military contractor owned by a relative of Uganda's president when they have over 100,000 peacekeepers?

The UN has had no response on the "Meece's Mills" scandal:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask on the Congo, maybe you will have something, maybe DPKO will have something on this.  There is a controversy in MONUSCO in eastern Congo, Walikale, the town where there was mass rapes and allegedly with inaction of MONUSCO at the time.  There was a quick implementation or quick-impact project set up, five grinding mills into Walikale to somehow make life better there, but I am informed that four of the five mills were never installed, and that basically money has been wasted, they are rotting, rusting, and I just wonder, since this was a high-profile thing at one time, with the UN trying to make good in Walikale, what’s the status of that project and why has there been no follow-through?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, Matthew, you will understand I have to check into that for you; I don’t have that information with me.

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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

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