d'Ivoire, As Ouattara is Served “UN Food,” UN Dodges
January 13 -- When a crowd of Laurent Gbagbo supporters
d'Ivoire stopped and looted a UN food convoy earlier this week, the
UN said it
was a violation of international humanitarian law. On January 13,
Inner City Press asked for confirmation that the food trucks had been
bound for the luxury Golf Hotel, asked what kind of food it was and
who was paying for it.
Martin Nesirky did not answer the question during the noon briefing,
but inserted into the subsequent
transcript was this line: “The
food is UN food.”
that mean UN
World Food Program food, the sort of high energy biscuit or sacks of
rice and flour that the UN delivers in many part of the world?
told Inner City Press that the Alassane Ouattara camp -- hundreds of
people -- are being provided with “Presidential food” as one
disgruntled UN staffer put it, and all with UN money. There is talk
of linen in the hotel being changed every day: a new human right,
phrase mean, “UN food”? Does the UN have some warehouse of
steaks and even wine? Or did it put out a procure contract for these
would liked to immediately follow up on the “the food is UN food”
answer, but the answer was not provided to Inner City Press directly.
Rather it was said over a speaker system that is audible in the
cubicles the UN provides to the UN press corps, the so-called
whistleblower free zone. It would have been easy to e-mail the
answer, as Inner City Press has requested. But it was not done.
is the UN's
transcript, beginning with a still unanswered question:
Press: Sure, I wanted to ask some questions about Côte
d’Ivoire. I understand that you said there would be some statement
on things on the ground. I just want to know, in advance of
deploring these things, is the UN confirming the burning of its
vehicles by supporters of Mr. Gbagbo?
What I can confirm is that there have been a number of
incidents, including the burning of a number of UN vehicles in
Press: There’s a pretty widely circulated — there’s been
in the French press now, among others — and no one knows if the
memo is true or not, so I want to preface it that way. But the buzz
is that the Forces Nouvelles intend to break out of the hotel around
January 19 to 23, there’s a document being circulated that purports
to be a kind of a plan for it — it could just be a de-stabilizing
document. But I just wanted to know, since the document says that
the UN will also get involved — the document seems to indicate that
incidents will precipitate action by both forces on that date. Has
the UN seen this? Does it deny that it’s playing any part in it? And
how would it view the Forces Nouvelles coming out of the Golf
I’d need to check on whether the Mission is aware of the document
that you mention, and what their take is on it.
UN's Le Roy & Ouattara, food and cost -- and plot? -- not shown
Press: One more thing, if you don’t mind — it’s just a
factual one. Maybe you’ll answer it or not, but I know that the
trucks that were looted were delivering food to the Golf Hotel. It
may seem like a strange question to you, but was the food — there
are a thousand people or more in the Golf Hotel. Who’s paying for
all this? Who’s paying the hotel bill, is the food UN food? If
so, how — I heard a figure of $5 million, maybe that’s too high,
but — is there some way to know what the actual kind of logistics
of this now month-long stay — unplanned stay at the Golf Hotel —
who’s paying the owner? Is the food from the UN, and is it WFP
[World Food Programme] food or some other, more presidential food? I’d
just like to get an answer on that.
Sure. Yes, Massoud? [He later said that the United Nations does
not pay the bills at the Golf Hotel. The food is UN food.]
was does “UN
food” mean? And how much does it cost? Watch this site.
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UN Defers to Gbabgo's Forces, Certified
12, updated -- In Cote
d'Ivoire, the UN is relying of the
forces of Laurent Gbagbo to protect civilians, even as it said that
Gbagbo's forces have ambushed and shot at UN peacekeepers.
on Wednesday asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN, which has
certified Alassane Ouattara as the President, views Gbagbo's forces
as “the government” or as rebels, and to compare this situation
to other countries like Sudan in which UN peacekeepers work with and
transport government officials, even if like Ahmed Harun they have
been indicted for war crimes.
make any comparison, saying instead that the UN need to have a
“channel of communication” with Gbagbo's forces. But the UN's
military spokesman in Cote d'Ivoire, Lt. Col. Rais Shakib. has said
that Gbagbo's “security forces always have the first line of
responsibility against wrongdoers.”
asked Nesirky, doesn't this imply that the UN views Gbagbo as the
government? Because rebels and non-state groups are not assigned such
“first line responsibility against wrongdoers” by the UN.
this question, but it will continue to be raised. What are
the other countries on earth where the UN had deemed a force in power
to be illegitimate, and how then does the UN work with such an
UN's Ban: why rely on Gbagbo if UN certified as illegitimate?
The UN usually
recognizes whatever regime is in
power, whether or not elections have been held. What message is the
Press also asked Nesirky about the UN “hot line” which
did not answer Abidjan residents' emergency calls. Nesirky claimed
the hot -- or it is cold? -- line is working well, and said he would
look into what its hours of operations are. Watch this site.
3:38 pm -- UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq has just told the
Press that the hot line "is manned 24 hours a day." Apparently,
the UN is taking issue with the
New York Times, which quoted Abidjan residents "repeatedly calling
a United Nations emergency hot line for help, and getting no answer."
So will the UN be asking for a correction or retraction?
of January 12:
On Côte d’Ivoire, I wanted to ask about this report
that during the attack that the UN turned back from, that even when
residents called this UN hotline that they got no answer at all, and
that the Lieutenant Colonel Rais Shakib said that it’s really up to
Gbagbo’s forces to be going after the wrongdoers. It seemed from
what you had read out, you are alleging that the Gbagbo forces are
some of the wrongdoers themselves…
I’m not alleging, Matthew, I’m telling you.
Okay, then why is the Force Commander there saying that
it’s up to the Gbagbo force to protect civilians, when you’re
saying that the Gbagbo forces are shooting at the UN? It doesn’t
seem to make sense.
those security forces are the forces on the ground, Ivorian
forces that are on the ground. They are the Government forces on the
ground in Abidjan and elsewhere. That’s the first thing. On the
hotline, I know that that hotline, which worked extremely well during
the election period, is still working extremely well. And I know
that people are there taking calls — this is primarily to do with
human rights, and being able to report human rights abuses or reports
of human rights abuses.
Is that number open at night? I’m sure you’ve seen
The [ New York] Times story that says that scores of residents called
and got no answer.
my knowledge, it’s open long hours. I need to check exactly
what the hours are. [He later said the human rights office in UNOCI
confirmed the hotline is manned 24 hours a day.]
I guess it’s just to clarify — I’m just trying to
understand — because given the quote by this Rais Shakib, that it’s
up to the Gbagbo forces essentially – I understand that you’d
want them to protect civilians – but if you’re not alleging, I
guess saying that they’re among the wrongdoers, in terms of
carrying out this protection of civilians mandate, is it reasonable
to say, as the Force Commander there does, that the UN is relying on
the Gbagbo forces to provide this protection?
primary responsibility for security in the country rests
with the security forces of the country. That’s fairly clear. And
the Mission has a mandate indeed to seek to protect civilians
wherever it can. And that’s what it tries to do.
Just one more, because I want to try to understand this. This
seems to be now a country where the security forces are
controlled by a Government that the UN has deemed to be illegitimate.
It seems that you – Mr. [Alassane] Ouatarra is the President;
therefore. Gbagbo is not the President; therefore, the security
forces are not legitimate. Is there – I’m interested to know if
there’s other countries where the UN deems those in power not to be
legitimate? Given that, doesn’t it change the UN’s usual
deference to security forces?
there’s no point in trying to draw parallels between
countries. Let’s stick with Côte d’Ivoire. And there, as I
say, those forces – the gendarmerie, the Republican Guard and the
Armed Forces – are the Government forces on the ground. They are
the ones — for the military, for the gendarmerie and for the
Republican Guard — we obviously need to be able to work with them
operationally, because they do have the primary responsibility for
security in their own country.
But it seems almost like a rebel force that controls
territory? Or are they viewed as the Government?
the point here is to be able to have a channel of
communication to those forces, to be able to ensure that incidents
like the one I referred to don’t occur.
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