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On DRC, UN Confirms to ICP "Security Incident" But Not Tear Gas on the UNpaid

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, December 4 -- The United Nations, UNaccountable in Africa as it has been in Haiti and Sri Lanka, has left a trail of broken promises, with one current example being in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Legal immunity, turned into impunity, is the cause of and link between these cases.

 The twist in this DRC case is that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's vaunted “UMOJA” enterprise resource planning computer system has been blamed for the UN's refusal to pay what it owes.

  But protests of the UN in Lubumbashi have not resulted in any accountability. In fact, the victims contacted Inner City Press with an alert about a physical attack. Inner City Press asked about it at the December 4 UN noon briefing. Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq repeated that "UNDP is looking into it," without answering if this meant UNDP was looking into the attack as well. Then this arrived:

"From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]>
Date: Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 12:43 PM
Subject: Your question on Lubumbashi
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Further to your question on Lubumbashi, we can confirm that there was a security incident involving an international OCHA staff member on 26 November in Lubumbashi.

The Department of Safety and Security is handling this matter in accordance with standard UN staff safety and security procedures.

We continue to call for the safety and security of all aid workers across the DRC and in humanitarian operations elsewhere.

Violence against humanitarian staff and organizations is unacceptable and only jeopardizes the ability of aid workers to assist people with major humanitarian needs."

 While the answer is appreciated, it does not address complaints that the UN has tried to use tear gas against the families of those it left unpaid in Katanga. Inner City Press asked the UN in writing, on Friday, November 27 when the UN did not hold a noon briefing, this question: "please state if OCHA's (new) chief in Lubumbashi Mauricio Gioliano has been reassigned, on information and belief to Goma, and if so please state why."

  This question was never answered or even responded to, but it is related. Watch this site.

On November 23, after exclusively reporting on this story, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, transcript here and below.

On November 24, Inner City Press asked again, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: yesterday you’d said that UNDP’s (United Nations Development Programme) legal position is looking into this Lubumbashi thing, which I know it sounds like a… like a kind of a very local situation, except these guys have, you know, filmed videos of what they were told by the UN staff there, and also they now say that many of the OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) people have been pulled from the office by orders of OCHA in Kinshasa.  In their mind, it’s kind of a cover-up.  I’m wondering…

Spokesman:  I understand.  I will see what else I can get, but I don’t have anything with me.

 Here's what another of the victims has written to Inner City Press:

"1 All OCHA staff in Lubumbashi were helped to escape including the chef Sulaiman Hamani Saidou and this decision was made by big bosses in New york

2 The register book for visitors to the office contains the proof of our visit and they are liable because all business was inside their office. we keep asking where is this book but it has disappeared: this must also be a decision by big bosses:  Madam Carol took this book away when she came from Kinshasa

3 the new OCHA staff are distracting us saying investigation is happening and then they changed mind and said talk to government just when they know there is total change in government in our province

4 meanwhile our children are suffering outside school and are refugees living on the street outside OCHA

5 many people in OCHA are involved including former chef and staff and people in Kinshasa like madam Carol and mr Moise who both assured us we would be paid. This is desperate situation for our families."
  From the day before, November 23:

Inner City Press: I’ve been contacted by and have seen the documents of a number of UN contractors in Lubumbashi in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), who have publicly protested pretty loudly about not being paid for months by OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) in Lubumbashi and Katanga.  They’ve held demonstrations.  There’s photographs of them now living outside the OCHA compound, but they’ve gotten no response at all.  And the excuse they were given for… they delivered maize and roofing.  They were told it’s because of Umoja that they couldn’t be paid.  Now they’re told all their money’s been taken and they should just keep living outside the camp.  What is the UN’s response to this?

Spokesman:  My understanding is that OCHA has met with representatives of the provincial authorities to keep them updated on the situation and that UNDP’s (United Nations Development Programme) legal office, which administers OCHA staff in the field, has begun an investigation process into the situation.

Inner City Press:  But, I mean, I guess what… they’re living outside the camp.

Spokesman:  That’s what I have.

Inner City Press:  Is it an impact of Umoja?

Spokesman:  I… I can’t speak to it.  I don’t know.

Inner City Press:  Is there a timeline for resolving it?

Spokesman:  I don’t know.

 Again Inner City Press' DRC and Great Lakes questions to Ban's Office of the Spokesperson in New York are left unanswered, dodged, then not taken at all, in deference to a group of scribes, UNCA, which do not ask such questions and, more recently, try to sell seats next to Ban Ki-moon for $6,000.

This is today's UN, and  and in the spirit of the new Free UN Coalition for Access we'll let one of the victims start this story (Inner City Press has documents) --

“The UN's OCHA office through their representative approached us to supply the office with a number of products search as: maize flour, wheat flour, iron/roofing sheets, sugar, and stationery items like copy paper, toners to help disadvantaged people in Congo.

“We received order forms at the OCHA office fully stamped and signed by three individuals from OCHA office. We also signed a copy that the office kept. Delivery was done at three warehouses in Lubumbashi and delivery notes and invoices were signed and stamped at the office. Payments were supposed to be three weeks after delivery. In 2014 until April 2015 payments were done within the three weeks. Late May we started having problems with payments and the excuse they gave us was there will be a change in the system to UMOJA SYSTEM and there will be a one month blackout. Since UN is a big world-wide organization, we decided to be patient with them, but the excuses went on and on.

“Beginning of October, when we went to demand for payment at the office, the manager informed us they know nothing about the issue and it’s a scam! Until now we have received no proper feedback from OCHA office, claiming they are waiting for a report from the Kinshasa Office. We reported to the local MONUSCO office and they are investigating the issue but still nothing yet from them.

We also took them to court and are awaiting the court verdict. The strange thing all the workers at OCHA office have been replaced by new ones! Where did the others disappear to? Is OCHA trying to cover up for their act?

“People have lost millions of dollars. Some of us have lost their livelihoods, wondering where the next Dollar is going to come from. Some families have pulled their kids out of school as they are not able to pay their school fees. Some families are out in the streets not able to pay rent. United Nations is a humanitarian agency and its main purpose is to help disadvantaged people. Is what they did to us inline with their objective or are they creating more disadvantaged people?

“We lack International coverage in DRCongo, and UN is taking advantage of this to shurt us up as they believe no one internationally will know about our plight. we have put our hopes in you as we believe you can help us in this to make our plight known internationally.”

  The reference to families who have pulled their kids out of school as they are not able to pay their school fees is reminiscent of the plight of families in Haiti whose breadwinner was killed by the cholera UN Peacekeeping brought; the UN has refused to help any of the victims. When Inner City Press asks, repeatedly, the UN repeats that it is trying to raise money from member states, but only for forward-going water and sanitation projects, nothing for its victims and their families. We'll have more on this.

 After Inner City Press exclusively reported on UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous having granted extensions to Burundian forces to continue in his mission in the Central African Republic despite not having the right equipment, and telling Burundi he is “pragmatic” on human rights, Inner City Press asked UN Spokeman Stephane Dujarric about it.

 Dujarric never answered, saying repeatedly he had not seen the UN Peacekeeping notes on the meeting -- which he could or should easily be able to get.

   But when Reuters quoted an unnamed UN Peacekeeping official that Ladsous is vetting DR Congo troops -- while giving Burundi troops a waiver, and not speaking about any lack of vetting by France whose Sangaris troops are accused of rape in CAR -- Dujarric would still not respond to Press questions about DPKO vetting, or non-vetting, of Burundian troops.

 Inner City Press asked Dujarric about these issues at the November 20 noon briefing, and about UN officials still cavorting with Senior Advisers of the Global Sustainability Foundation, whose founder Sheri Yan has been indicted for using GSF for corruption inside the UN. Dujarric said he was not aware of the event Inner City Press asked about. Of course, he could easily find out.

  On Burundi, after Inner City Press asked Dujarric about an NGOs report on the government banning people from fleeing the country, Dujarric said he was unaware of the report. The NGO tweeted the report link to him. But still no answer. We'll have more on all this.

Footnote: the Free UN Coalition for Access find repeated non-answering of questions UNacceptable, as well as the setting aside of questions for UNCA, which is currently soliciting $6,000 for seats next to Ban Ki-moon at its fundraiser on Wall Street. Dujarric was asked about this as well and said, “As long as it's transparent.” Really?


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