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After 51 UN Personnel Murdered in 2015, ICP Asks of Haiti, Louis Maxwell

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- What does today's UN do to protect its staff? Inner City Press has recently been informed by staff and reported that local employees of the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan are no longer told of dangers to them in Situation Reports.

 Now it is reported that 51 UN personnel were deliberately killed in 2015. On January 21, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on the report of the 51 personnel killed.  The recommendation for a high-level panel also says that the panel should review if compensation is adequate of the families who died for the Organization including the family of officer Louis James Maxwell, killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan 2009.  And I know that in this case then-Chief of Staff [Susana] Malcorra visited his family.  There was a lot of focus on it at the time.  But, the compensation and two, the accountability, was the issue ever really pursued with the Afghan Government in terms of who shot him and… given that there was footage of who did it?

Deputy Spokesman:  We repeatedly, over the years, have pursued the question of accountability with the Government of Afghanistan, including through not one, but several heads of the Department of Safety and Security over the years.  Beyond that, I would refer you to the Government itself.  But, we have continued in a fairly intense dialogue with them.

Inner City Press:  And I wanted to… the same report talks about the… sadly, the end of the year these two UN police that were killed in Haiti that, I believe, were from Rwanda.  It was said that the UN [Stabilization Mission in Haiti], MINUSTAH, was going to work with the Government to try to find out… this report says that they were apparently shot by unidentified assailants.  Has there been any progress in finding out who killed them and why?

Deputy Spokesman:  We're not aware of who… of the identity of the attackers.  It seemed to be an attack in the home, in the residence, of these two peacekeepers, and we need to know what the circumstances are.  But, the UN Mission, MINUSTAH, is investigating. 

 The report says:

"For the second year in a row, the greatest loss of life had been recorded in Mali where at least 25 personnel, including 11 peacekeepers and 14 civilians and associated personnel, were killed... For the second year in a row, South Sudan topped the list of countries where the highest number of staff had been either detained or abducted or disappeared, four of whom (one staff member from 2014) have now been presumed no longer alive...

There is a call for a high level panel, citing the case of Louis Maxwell in Afghanistan: murdered and cover-up here.

In the UN's continued withholding of news and answers about South Sudan, the reports of the UN's own knowledge of abuses are now being withheld from its own impacted national staff.

Back on January 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the withheld situation reports, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: South Sudan, we've been back and forth about these situation reports, and I want… one, I wanted to ask you whether you have anything in your binder about fighting near a place called Diabio.  But I also wanted to ask you, I've now heard that the situation reports will no longer be distributed electronically and, more troublingly, that local UN staff are not supposed to be told the contents of the reports.  I'd like you to check that… [cross talk] … given… given…

Spokesman:  I don't know what situation reports you're talking about.  You're obviously… you're getting situation reports that… [cross talk]

Inner City Press:  My overall question…

Spokesman:  Obviously, you know, there are different types of reports.  There are those done by the peacekeeping mission which I give to you.

Inner City Press:  UNDSS (Department of Safety and Security).

Spokesman:  There are others done, like you said, by DSS.  These are the ones you seem to have unlimited access to, which is, I guess, good for you.  The point is DSS is entrusted to keeping our staff safe, and I trust them to share the information they need to share to ensure that all staff, whether national or international, have the information they need to be able to stay safe.

  Even if that were true, what about civilians?

We'll have more on this.


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