July 30 UN E-mail Spoke of FDLR & Rape, 22 Rapes Reported
to UN Aug 6
By Matthew Russell
September 2 -- As the Congo rape
scandal develops, the UN's
mis-statements become ever more clear. Roger Meece, the chief of the
UN Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) told the Press that the first
MONUSCO knew of the rapes was on August 12.
Then there was an account
of a July 30 e-mail and an August 6 report by the International
Medical Corps. Inner City Press has now seen the e-mails, which the
UN initially said it couldn't find.
e-mail, from the UN's Agustin Rwandarugari to a variety of UN and NGO
parties, said in French:
urgent pour les humanitaires -- Selon l’ANR Walikale, la
de Mpofi 52km de Walikale vient de tomber aux mains des FDLR. Une
femme y a été violée. Les humanitaires sont
priés de na pas
emprunter cette route pour le moment.”
for the humanitarians - According to ANR Walikali, the
locality of Mpofi, 52 kilometers from Walikali, has fallen into the
hands of the FDLR. A woman there has been raped. Humanitarians are
asked not to use that route for the moment.”]
September 2 in
New York, Inner City Press asked UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan
Haq to square this July 30 e-mail with Mr. Meece's claim that MONUSCO
only knew of rape from August 12 onwards. Video here,
tried to say
that Meece had meant with “verifiable” information. But UN
official Rwandarugari's above quoted July 30 e-mail, labeled
“urgent,” said the village was in rebel hands and a woman had
Rwandarugari was told, at the IMC compound in Walikali on August 6,
of at least 22 rapes in Luvungi alone. He went there after he heard
that an IMC convoy had been ambushed.
and the UN got
notice of 22 rapes from a source, the IMC, which the UN has
acknowledged as credible. This was verifiable information, on a date
far in advance of the August 12 date used by Mr. Meece.
asked, what happens now?
UN's Meece, explanation of July 30 e-mail and Aug 6
report not shown
to point to the upcoming March
7 briefing (followed by closed door consultations) of the Security
Council by Peacekeeping deputy Atul Khare and Sexual Violence in
Conflict representative Margot Wallstrom.
president, the Ambassador of Turkey, held a press conference
on Thursday, and Inner City Press asked if he and the Council had
understood, despite the fanfare with which Ms. Wallstrom's office was
set up in March, that it would be inoperative into August 2010, and
become aware of the rapes only 15 (or 22) days after the UN in the
Congo was aware of them. Video here,
from Minute 17:58.
said, you will
hear on March 7. We'll be there -- but where is the accountability?
Watch this site.
September 2, a month after the mass rapes and a week after being put in
charge of coordinating the UN's response, Ms. Wallstrom greeted Inner
City Press as she walked to a media interview on the second floor of
the UN in New York. Still not in the Congo, someone said...
* * *
Rapes, UN Admits 240 Victims, Dodges Meece Inaccuracies,
September 1 -- As the UN tries to slow down or even bury the
story of its inaction on the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, the
questions keep on coming and the admissions, drip by drip. But
belatedly updated victim numbers can't change the inaccurate statements
of MONUSCO chief Roger Meece, nor the inaction of
Margot Wallstrome, UN envoy on Sexual Violence and Conflict.
at the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked about
Press: what the UN knew and when, saying that on 30 July in that
e-mail it mentioned a rape in the village of Mpofi, and also a 10
August e-mail mentioning already 25 rapes. These dates are
inconsistent, to put it mildly, with what Mr. Meece said to us from
the video screen. What are the ramifications? Does the UN deny
this... or are we missing something in terms of the inaccuracies?
Farhan Haq: As far as that goes, as you’re aware,
when the Secretary-General learned of these mass rapes, what he did
from our side was to immediately dispatch Atul Khare, the Assistant
Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. He is there right now. We just mentioned
what his travels in the area are. He, among other things, was sent
there specifically to look into the mass rapes that occurred in the
Walikale area. He’ll also look at our response and how we
responded to it. He’s there now collecting information and we will
see what his evaluation is of that situation when he returns. We
expect him back next week and we expect him to report back to the
Secretary-General, and also, by the way, to the Security Council,
although, of course, their schedule for the month is still being
Press: But I remember Martin [Nesirky] saying from this podium
that here at the Secretariat in New York your office was looking into
this 30 July e-mail to find what it was and what it said. Now, the
New York Times says a rape occurred. I’m just wondering, has your
office found that e-mail? And totally outside of Mr. Khare’s time
schedule, what does it mean it mean about what Mr. Meece told us?
Yes, we have been looking into that. At this stage,
what I would wait for is to see what information Mr. Khare, as the
person who is there on the ground, because he is there, he is
accumulating data and he will report back. I think we’ll leave it
until then. But, yes, we’ve been looking into this and certainly
we’re trying to find what the providence of this particular e-mail
Press: Just one more on this. The International Medical Corps
now says that the number of women treated in this mass rape incident,
they’ve raised their number from 192 to 242. I’m just wondering
if the UN, which initially had this 154 number, do you dispute those
numbers? Or is the UN just shutting down its communications until 7
I don’t have for you at this stage any higher number
beyond what we’ve given. However, as our presence in that area
grows and as there’s been more of a restoration of peace to various
areas, freeing up people to feel like they can speak, we’re trying
to get more information about what’s going on. So we may find out
more information about other attacks. So we would update the numbers
accordingly once we get that. But right now at this stage what we’re
doing is we’re spreading out into various communities. We’re
looking into different reports and we’ll try and see what further
information we have.
added later that the United Nations Organization
Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(MONUSCO) has put the number of rape victims at higher than 240, with
more cases being reported.]
fact, after the
above transcribed questions, the UN released not only an updated
number of victims, but a whole press release...
* * *
Rapes, UN Inaction & Dissembling Stretches to Wallstrom,
August 31 -- Of the mass rapes
in Eastern Congo which
occurred from July 30 through August 4, the UN's Special
Representative on Sexual Violence and Conflict Margot Wallstrom only
learn on “August 21-22 through emerging media sources,” Wallstrom
told the Press on Tuesday. Video here,
from Minute 1:50.
asked what steps she had taken, in her six months on the job, to try
to ensure that UN peacekeeping missions like MONUSCO in the Congo
actually inform her of mass rape, rather than leaving her to find out
about in in the newspapers ten days after MONUSCO admits knowing of
it. Video here,
from Minute 14:19.
apparently realizing how bad it looked to learn only from the media,
changed her story and said “not the newspaper,” she had “reports
and calls one by one.” Video here,
from Minute 18:19.
Wallstrom's shifting and self serving story, one call she did receive
was from the Secretary General, calling her into action from where
she was in Europe. Still, as of August 31 she had not gone to the
Congo after the rape story broke, instead sending an underling from
the office she has barely staffed in six months.
that only four of ten posts have been filled; she said there was only
been an office since June. She blamed this on the UN budget process.
a critique of the UN peacekeepers' inaction -- it has now been shown
that the UN knew of at least one of the rapes on July 30, and of at
least 25 by August 10 -- Ms. Wallstrom chided the media to keep the
asked about known rapists still serving in the FARCD Congolese army:
Bosco Ntaganda, an FARDC commander who walks around Goma at will,
Colonel Zimulinda / Zimurinda, who the UN worked with even after UN
expert Philip Alston named him as responsible for 50 rapes, and
ex-warlord and kidnapper and murderer of UN peacekeepers Peter Kerim,
made a colonel in the FARDC. Video here,
from Minute 35:15.
UN's Ban and Wallstrom, action on, even knowledge of, mass rapes not
Wallstrom lamented that some in the FARDC are “people straight from
the forest.” But will her office call for their arrest and
apprehension? Video here,
from Minute 37:22. Wallstrom seemed to say
yes. We'll see.
Wallstrom's "straight outta the forest" comment, an African UN
official tells Inner City Press that Wallstrom's "language" is causing
consternation. Ironically, but
UN, Wallstrom may
accountability if at all not for her inaction, but for her language.
to be established is whether Wallstrom even gave her cell
phone number to Roger Meece and other peacekeeping officials. To be
informed of mass rape known to UN peacekeepers does not require the
full staff of ten.
While Ms. Wallstrom said that the UN can't protect
women in all conflict zones, it seems fair to ask why, while spending
$1 billion, the UN can't protect women from mass multi-day rape 20
minutes from a UN peacekeeping base. Who will be held accountable?
Those who looked away or those who dissembled after the fact? Why not
both? To be continued.
* * *
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
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Press March 12 UN (and AIG
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Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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16, 2009 debate about Gaza
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review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
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City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
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City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
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undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
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