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UN Confirms Peacekeepers from Ukraine Had DRC Uniforms, Now What?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 2 -- After six Ukrainians with the UN Peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo were arrested for purchasing and possessing Congolese military uniforms. Inner City Press on November 28 put this question to the UN's top two spokesmen:

"please state what rules in place, or if none, will be put in place, regarding UN affiliated personnel purchasing or possession the military uniforms of countries in which they serve. Relatedly, please state the UN's final conclusion of its investigation into reports of Ukraine using UN-marked helicopters inside Ukraine itself.”

UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq did not answer either of these DRC / Ukraine questions in an e-mail on November 28. Nor at the December 1 noon briefing was any response provided.

  So on December 2, Inner City Press asked the question again, to Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: what ARE the UN's policies? He said he had asked the MONUSCO mission but received no answer.

  Two hours later, the UN sent this to Inner City Press:

"MONUSCO is aware of this incident, and we can confirm the detention of the six Ukrainian crew. MONUSCO is giving, and will give, full cooperation to the authorities to clarify what has really happened.

"An investigation has begun to assess every detail of this incident and establish the facts and draw conclusion. If anyone is found guilty, in line with UN rules and regulations sanctions, will be taken and applied. MONUSCO is calling for calm and to let the inquiry be finalized. MONUSCO has a zero tolerance for misconduct."

 While the response is appreciated, it does not say what UN Peacekeeping's rules are. And there is dispute whether MONUSCO, and UN Peacekeeping generally, has zero tolerance for misconduct -- as simply one example, personnel from UN Peacekeeping in Haiti fled to Canada are being charged with sexual abuse, and more than a year later the UN can't or won't say if any discipline was every imposed. Will they in this case? Watch this site.

On November 28, Haq did reply to Inner City Press on another question, “Regarding the South Sudan helicopter, the Board of Inquiry has finished its investigation and is currently in the process of preparing its report.”

The Congo mission, like the one in South Sudan, is run by Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping. Tellingly, despite Inner City Press on November 28 asking for the third time for the UN to confirm receipt by Ladsous of a protest letter from Darfuri group, Haq dodged the question by repeating that the UNAMID mission, which already on November 9 said residents of Tabit in Darfur get along well with the military, is still trying to re-investigate.

  There was still been no confirmation of receipt, despite the repeated public questions. We'll have more on this.

Here were other questions Inner City Press asked on November 28:

In Haiti, MSF says more than 3,000 people with cholera symptoms have required emergency treatment in Port-au-Prince since mid-October, calling this as “exponential” increase. What is the UN's response, including specifically on allegations it is responsible for cholera in Haiti. And, please provide a read-out of Mr. Medrano's meeting this week with the DSG, or an on the record statement why no read-out is provided.

In Mali, please explain what provisions, including for discipline, are in place concerning 38 MINUSMA peacekeepers abandoning their posts. Also, please state the UN's final conclusion of all investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by MINUSMA peacekeepers and any discipline meted out.

Also, please confirm or deny receipt of the Darfuri group's letter sent to the SG, USG Amos and USG Ladsous which I asked about it two noon briefings earlier this week, and state any UN response to it.

Finally, for transparency, please confirm or deny that UK PM Cameron nominated Andrew Lansley to replace Valerie Amos at OCHA when he spoke with the SG at the G20 in Brisbane, and confirm or deny that SG requested that at least two other (UK) candidates be nominated.

Here were UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq's responses:

Subject: Re: Press questions
From: Farhan Haq [at]
Date: Fri, Nov 28, 2014
To: Matthew [dot] Lee [at] InnerCityPress [dot] com
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at], FUNCA [at]

Hi, Matthew, Regarding the South Sudan helicopter, the Board of Inquiry has finished its investigation and is currently in the process of preparing its report.

Regarding a replacement for Valerie Amos, USG Amos has said that she will leave by the end of March. We are in the process of requesting nominations for a replacement from all Member States.

On Mali, MINUSMA is expected to come out with a press release shortly on the issue you indicated.

On Darfur, UNAMID continue with its efforts to gain access to Thabit, as the Secretary-General and the Security Council have called for.

On Haiti, it is not our standard practise to provide readouts of internal meetings, as in this case.

If we have anything to say on the other questions raised, we'll let you know in a separate email.--Farhan  

Watch this site.

Update: When the UN Spokesperson's Office closed four hours later, no further information was provided.

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