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In UNSC, DPKO Brags of Separating by Gender, Silent on Minova Rapes by DRC Army

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 -- In the UN Security Council's “Displaced Women and Girls” open debate on October 28, UN Peacekeeping not through its head Herve Ladsous but rather his deputy Edmond Mulet made a number of claims of how it protects women.

  But UN Peacekeeping did not, as it should, acknowledge sexual violence problems in its ranks and among its partners, from Haiti to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tellingly this was left to member states, for example the lone foreign minister among the 70 speakers, Urmat Paet of Estonia, that in UN peacekeeping mission, “sexual violence has been an issue.” Egypt, Thailand and others mentioned the topic as well.

   UN Peacekeeping's Mulet, on the other hand, said that the UN Mission in South Sudan UNMISS advocated “for a gendered approach to camp logistics and protection, resulting in establishment of separate facilities for women and men and to appointment of women as camp management.”

   Since under Ladsous, UN Peacekeeping does not answer Press questions, Inner City Press went to the October 28 noon briefing and asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what Mulet meant: is the UN splitting up families? Dujarric made a reference to safety, then said don't get ahead of yourself, we'll find out. OK, we're waiting - as we're waiting to know if UN Peacekeeping ever suspended any support to units of the DRC Army which committed more than 130 rapes in Minova, for which only two soldiers were convicted.

 Back on October 20 when UN Sexual Violence in Conflict expert Zainab Bangura spoke about South Sudan, Inner City Press asked of her meeting with Riek Machar and whether she thinks he controls Peter Gadet, under sanctions by the US and suspected of shooting down a UN helicopter. Video here.

  Bangura called her talks with Machar "decent" including "very detailed information on where he is in command." Apparently, Machar is responsible or accepts responsibility for Gadet. But where are the results of the helicopter probe? Another UN cover-up?

 Inner City Press also asked Bangura of the 130 rapes in Minova by the DR Congo Army in November 2012, after which only two soldiers have been convicted while UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous continues supporting the rapist units.

  Bangura said she couldn't speak to that part of the UN, and linked the lack of justice for Minova to the government's delay in investigating. Video here. But doesn't the government, and Ladsous' DPKO and MONUSCO, know which DRC Army units were in Minova during the rapes, and who was in charge of them? Impunity continues.

  While South Sudan President Salva Kiir was in New York, he did not attend the UN's “High Level” event about his country on September 25.

A Senior US State Department Official, speaking on background, said that “there was a lot of disappointment expressed in the meeting that Salva Kiir who is here in New York did not attend the meeting. He sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs and some of his ministers to the meeting and several of the attendees made a point of noting that Salva Kiir was not at the meeting.”

Inner City Press asked the Senior State Department Official if the US know who was behind the recent shooting down of a UN helicopter, if it could confirm that forces under the control of Peter Gadet, already under US sanctions, did it.

The US official said “we know that the UN is investigating it, we are waiting for the results of that investigation. Gadet has been put on the sanctions list even before that happened.”

The official called the shoot-down “evidence of how difficult it is to work in South Sudan,” and added that South Sudan's foreign minister had said the government is committed to not blocking NGOs and the UN from providing aid. “We have to hold them to that commitment,” the official concluded, “people are suffering.”

Background: back on May 6, 2014, when the US imposed sanctions on Gadet, Inner City Press asked:

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you. Our next question is from the other Matt Lee, Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Great. Thanks a lot, [Moderator]. I wanted to ask, there was a – it was said that in Security Council consultations at the UN that senior government officials were named in a radio broadcast prior to the attacks in Bor on the UN compound in killing the civilians. I just wonder if you can say are these people – is that the case? Do you know the names of people that sort of called for that attack, and in which case, why aren’t they on this list?

And I also – this might for Senior Administration Official Number Two. Secretary Kerry was talking about a legitimate force to help make peace. And I just wanted to know, is the UN – is the U.S. thinking of that as part of UNMISS mission or as the IGAD force? And if so, would it require a Security Council approval? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: On the first, I mean, we typically do not comment on actors against whom we are – we have not yet – we have not yet acted, a clunky way of saying we don’t comment on those who are not part of our designation. But anyone who is contributing to the violence, whether that’s by directing violence, whether that’s by funding it, fueling it, contributing arms, can be a subject of designation in the future. And I’ll leave it to my State Department colleague to answer the second question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. On the question about the regional force and on UNMISS, we – it is something that conversations and discussions are ongoing between countries of IGAD, with New York, with ourselves and others on how best to create this additional force presence that we are working very much with UNMISS and see this as part of the same effort. But we do think it’s very important that the regional forces are able to join this effort in larger numbers and appreciate the efforts of, particularly, the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, who are leading the mediation and who are seeking to work with UNMISS in this regard.


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