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Use in Mali of Child Soldier Recruiter Chad is Up to Ladsous, "Grace Period, Sure"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 -- How could the UN accept and pay a listed child soldier recruiter as part of its peacekeeping mission in Mali?

  On June 12, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's representative on the issue Leila Zerrougui about Chad, and the "grace period" proposed by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous for its service in the UN's MINUSMA mission in Mali starting July 1.

  "For sure it will be a grace period," Leila Zerrougui said. Video here, in Minute 28.

  Zerrougui said more than that, including on Myanmar and three other countries Inner City Press asked about which have been critical in different ways of her mandate: India, Colombia and Pakistan.

 But the move by Ladsous to accept Chad, while still listed by the UN as a child soldier recruiter, into the Mali mission may more seriously undermine the UN's Children and Armed Conflict mandate.

  Zerrougui said it is an opportunity, that a road map has been proposed with five short term goals and five long term. The short term goal are beginning to be implemented, she said. But others point out that there has been an Action Plan in place for two years, and still dozens of child soldiers were recruited in 2012.

Shouldn't an Action Plan be complied with? Inner City Press asked that also with respect to Myanmar. Questions on video here, from Minute 24 and 42:57.

  Zerrougui said that country will be visited by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in October. Fine. In the interim, would Ladsous accept Burmese soldiers into his peacekeeping missions?

  On the specifics of how Ladsous proposes a grace period to work, Ban's spokespeople have repeatedly said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will answer. But they have yet to provide the update on Ladsous' rape grace period -- or "three strikes and maybe you're out" -- as applied to the 135 rapes by the Congolese Army in Minova that Inner City Press requested from Ladsous on May 29.

  Then, Ladsous said, "You know I do not respond to you." Video here. Inner City Press re-asked the question to Ban's spokesperson's office on May 30, but still no answer. Is Ladsous in his own grace period?

  On the use of a listed child soldier recruiter in the mission in Mali, there is a deadline: July 1. Zerrougui said this is up to DPKO, and that DPKO will discuss it with the Security Council. This is the UK's month. Watch this site.

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