On Zimbabwe Crackdown Inner City Press Asked UN Guterres No Answer Now on Cyclone

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On Zimbabwe Crackdown Inner City Press Asked UN Guterres No Answer Now on Cyclone

By Matthew Russell Lee, Vid here, CAR photos

UNITED NATIONS GATE,  March 17 -- Amid the crackdown in Zimbabwe, when Inner City Press in writing on January 16 asked Secretary General Antonio Guterres, his Deputy Amina J Mohammed, Communicator Alison Smale and spokesman Stephane Duajrric, there was no answer at all. Pastor Evan Mawarire of the #ThisFlag movement had been arrested - and nothing from Guterres, Mohammed, Smale and Dujarric, who promised on camera to answer questions (Smale promised in writing). But now, typically, Guterres who has said that human rights questions to governments are impolite has a robo-comment about nature: " The Secretary-General is saddened by the loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of people due to the heavy rains and flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai.      The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to people and Government of Zimbabwe.     The United Nations expresses its solidarity with the Zimbabwe authorities and stands ready to work with them as they respond to the humanitarian needs resulting from this disaster.     Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General  New York, 17 March 2019." To this has Guterres reduced the UN: a weatherman after the fact, while dodging on issues it could impact and censoring the Press to try to cover up UN and personal corruption. Here's what Inner City Press asked: "January 16-1: On Zimbabwe, what is the SG's comment and action on that police and military have launched a massive crackdown in Zimbabwe after what appears to be have been a widespread breakdown of public order linked to food and fuel shortages in the impoverished country.  Access to the internet and social media was shut off for most of Wednesday, and armed soldiers were patrolling the streets of major cities as unidentified men were reported to be sweeping through poor neighborhoods of Harare, the capital, and beating people at random?" No answer at all, while Dujarric is tweeting about expensive restaurants. Disgusting. Even as the UN was bragging how much it cares for Central African Republic and its residents - while UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres refuses to answer Inner City Press' questions about rapes committed there by his peacekeepers from Cameroon - on 13 December 2018 another scandal came into focus, the UN Mission MINUSCA standing by while more than 100 civilians were killed in Alindao, see below. That one, at least the UN admitted there is a an issue. Not this one, yet: on January 14 at noon Inner City Press in writing asked Guterres, his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed, USG Alison Smale and Spokesman Stephane Dujarric (the last two have promised answers, here and here) questions including: "January 14-2: On Central African Republic, please immediately provide the SG's comment and action on photos of videos of blue helmeted peacekeepers, apparently from the UN's Mauritanian contingent, carrying wounded / killed people near Ippy." No answer at all, even as Spokesman Dujarric tweets about expensive restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side, here - so Inner City Press which has been asked to report on his outrage, which includes video and photos of blue helmet dragging and "bragging" out corpses, now uploads some here. A full 24 hour later, Inner City Press again in writing asked Guterres, Amina J. Mohammed, Alison Smale, Dujarric and others: "On Central African Republic, please immediately as you did not yesterday provide the SG's comment and action on photos of videos of blue helmeted peacekeepers, apparently from the UN's Mauritanian contingent, carrying wounded / killed people near Ippy. To ensure your prompt response, here are two of the photos." And nothing - totally unaccountable. This is Guterres' UN. Even though the UN simply stonewalls rather than seeking to answer, we'll note that some say this footage is front when "anti-balaka" tried to free people imprisoned by the Mauritanian UN peacekeepers - and the the UN Group of Experts published a photo with the blue helmets omitted. Guterres self-serving and censorious decision to rough up and ban the Press at the UN which asks about this, leaving a briefing room with no one asking and none of the promises answers to written questions - this is the disgusting state to which Guterres has brought the UN - not even responding to PHOTOGRAPHS of blue helmets defiling the cadavers of African civilians. We'll have more on this. This comes after UN negligence leading to the death of 100 civilians in Alindao in CAR. Inner City Press wrote about it on December 13, and on the morning of December 14, still banned from the UN by SG Antonio Guterres after 163 (now 186) days, submitted questions including this to Guterres, his deputy Amina J. Mohammed, Alison Smale, Stephane Dujarric and Farhan Haq: "December 14-1: On CAR, what is the SG's comment and more importantly action on reports that UN peacekeepers' fleeing contributed to the killing of 100 civilians in Alindao? Who will be held accountable?" Haq held an in person briefing at which no one allowed in asked about the UN killing 100 people through negligence. At 2:40 pm Haq sent Inner City Press this: "Regarding your first question, we have the following to say: We have seen the Amnesty report and we are taking extremely seriously the atrocities committed against civilians in Alindao. We have requested the Government to investigate these crimes against civilians with our support and for perpetrators to be held accountable.

We also take seriously any allegation of underperformance. MINUSCA is investigating the response of our peacekeepers at the time of the attack and we will take appropriate measures based on the findings. 

At the time of the attack, the Mission had 48 peacekeepers in the area and was trying to protect the 3,000 IDPs who have moved to our temporary operating base to seek protection. Our capacity was just not enough to deal effectively with the complexity, scale and type of the attack. MINUSCA immediately sent reinforcements from Bambari to help contain the violence but due to the poor infrastructure, they arrived in Alindao 36 hours later. Once the reinforcements were on the ground, MINUSCA was able to execute more efficiently its protection mandate. We are currently protecting around 17,000 civilians in Ouaka prefecture.

The Mission continues to engage with the UPC and anti-Balaka representatives on ending all the violence against civilians in Alindao and Ouaka prefecture. A human rights mission and a surge team are in the city as part of the measures to work with the communities to ease tensions, as well as relaunch dialogue and political engagement.

As the Amnesty report acknowledges, MINUSCA is working hard to protect civilians in various parts of the country within its limited resources. Despite operational and logistical challenges, the Mission has saved countless of lives and it will continue to execute its protection mandate." But consider: "
According to multiple eyewitnesses, UN peacekeepers did not engage an attack by an armed group but instead retreated in an armoured vehicle to their central base, leaving thousands of civilians unprotected at the camp in Alindao on 15 November.
An immediate and impartial inquiry must focus, in particular, on whether the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) failed in its duty to protect the lives of more than 18,000 people residing at the site.
“Scores of civilians at the displaced persons camp in Alindao were massacred after the UN peacekeepers charged with protecting them failed to take action to fend off their armed attackers,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International." Now if only Amnesty would stand up to the UN, or at the very least answer its mail, about Inner City Press being "BARRED" by UN Security from a December 10 Human Right Day event in the UN moderated by Amnesty's Sherine Tadros. We'll have more on that - and on this: Guterres says he has a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual abuse, exploitation and
harassment, and for retaliation. But when Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on March 15 about Michel Sidibé's reported threats of retaliatory investigations against those making and offering support to sexual harassment complaints at UNAIDS, Haq said this is entire a matter for UNAIDS. Earlier Inner City Press story here; exclusive publication of whistleblowers' international condemnation of retaliation and favoritism in Sidibe's UNAIDS, below. On November 14, the 134th day Guterres has banned Inner City Press -- the UN data dumped after four pm five rape charges against six Cameroonian UN "peacekeepers" in the Central African Republic, on which the Paul Biya government has not even responded to the UN, a case of sexual exploitation by a UN civilian staffer in DR Congo. Photo here.


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