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As LRA Rampages in UN Peacekeepers' Zones, Security Council Debates, DPKO Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- The UN Security Council repeatedly debated “the protection of civilians.” Meanwhile, in the midst of three of its most expensive peacekeeping missions, a small group of machete wielding fanatics, the Lord's Resistance Army, continues to slaughter, or rape and enslave, women and children.

This, perhaps, is the test case of the Security Council's and Department of Peacekeeping Operations' commitment to the actual protection of civilians. Inner City Press asked June's Security Council President, Claude Heller of Mexico, about the issue on June 28 as his presidency ended (video here) --

Inner City Press: One question on the LRA. It was mentioned in the CAR [inaudible] Do you think the dismantling of MINURCAT and the shrinking of MONUSCO, it seems that there will be fewer peacekeepers. What’s the plan to actually get these three UN missions, actually two..?

Claude Heller: That is a very good question because that is the question that we have ourselves and some other members of the SC, we have put to the Secretariat and the SRSG. We have insisted at the same time that the LRA issue has to be viewed from a regional perspective. Because you know very well that the LRA has been very active in different countries and we have asked, in the case of Mexico at least, we have asked the Secretariat and SRSG to make some proposals on how to deal on a regional basis with this role so negative that the LRA is playing.

  But as it turns out, no proposal has yet been unveiled.

Fleeing the LRA, protection by 3 UN peacekeeping missions not shown

   The next day June 29 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office:

Inner City Press: yesterday the Security Council, the President, this month’s President, Claude Heller, said that there is a concern, certainly in his Mission, but I think on the Council, about how to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army; that with MINURCAT [United Nations Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic] pulling out and MONUSCO [United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] shrinking, what used to be MONUC, that there may be fewer UN peacekeepers and intelligence in the area where the Lord’s Resistance Army is massacring civilians. So he’d said that there has been a request to the Secretariat to come up with some kind of a plan rather than just report on the massacres that take place. I wanted to know — maybe you can do it now or maybe sometime later — what the UN’s plan; whether it’s DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] or this Mission in Central African Republic, whether the UN actually, whether such a plan is being developed and how it will address the withdrawal of peacekeepers from both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and…?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Yeah, sure, we can look into that. And I am sure my colleagues from DPKO will be able to provide an answer on that. I would simply reiterate that in both cases, the mandates were subject to Security Council approval and scrutiny. And that we made abundantly clear our view that, what our preference was in both cases.

Inner City Press: You’re saying that there is a need to share intelligence between these various missions? That somehow with each Mission being looked at separately and having its own separate resolution, whatever. I’m not trying to — if you can check to see what DPKO is doing on this.

Spokesperson: Sure. I’m sure they would be happy to help. Right.

   Right? Since that inter-change, nothing more has been said, by DPKO or the Spokesperson's Office. On July 2, Inner City Press asked the incoming Security Council President, Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, whether she would use her month atop the Council to do anything about the LRA. While Ms. Ogwu and her team answered other questions, including about the continued exclusion of the Spokesperson's Office from the Council's consultations, she did not answer about the LRA. Perhaps at the July 7 debate -- watch this space.

* * *

UN Council To Take Up Kosovo, Access Reconsidered, LRA Ignored, Nigeria's Month

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 -- Hours after a pro-Serbian demonstrator was killed in Mitrovica in Northern Kososo, the UN in New York could not speak about the incident, or why its UNMIK peacekeepers had not been providing protection.

   Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq what the UN's role had been in the planning and protection of the opening of a Kosovo government office in Mitrovica. Haq said he would have to check with the UNMIK Mission.

Later Haq's office sent this to Inner City Press:

Subject: your questions on Kosovo at the Spokesperson's Noon Briefing on Friday
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
To: Inner City Press
Date: Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 2:26 PM

In relation to your questions on Kosovo at the Noon Briefing today, we're still awaiting some more information from colleagues at UNMIK, but in the meantime, I wanted to tell you that the UN condemns the violence which led to the loss of life and supports all efforts to find those responsible for the explosion. In addition, UNMIK and its office in Mitrovica will remain engaged with all communities to encourage pragmatic dialogue and help address their concerns.

  We'll see. Inner City Press asked incoming Security Council president Joy Ogwu of Nigeria if the Council would take the matter up. Yes, she said, there will be a meeting on July 6, with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations briefing. High officials will come. But what will be accomplished?

Inner City Press asked also Ambassador Ogwu about the access of the UN Spokesperson's office to Council consultations, about elections in Burundi and Guinea, and about the Lord's Resistance Army. She and her political coordinator asked two or three of the four questions, leaving the LRA off. Video here.

Joy Ogwu, and DPKO's Alain Le Roy, action on Kosovo and answers on LRA not shown

On access, Nigeria's political coordinator said these are only interim rules, and vowed to work on the issue during the month. On elections, Ambassador Ogwu said the UN should learn from each situation, and referred several times to the planned referendum in Nigeria. On the LRA, she had no answer, like teh UN and the Council. And on Kosovo, we'll find on July 6. We'll be there, watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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