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UN Still In Denial in Cote d'Ivoire, Koenders Clears ONUCI for Nahibly

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 26 -- Since the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire stood by as internally displaced people were killed in the Nahibly IDP camp in July, it has twice promised to investigate its inaction.

   After Inner City Press asked in July, and the UN promised that witnesses who say UN Peacekeepers form the ONUCI mission actively pushed IDPs off their UN trucks and to their deaths, top UN envoy Bert Koenders made a press statement in Abidjan denying any UN fault.

  Then in October after more bodies were found in wells around Nahibly, and Inner City Press asked again, the UN said another investigation was underway.

   And so on December 24 Inner City Press asked the UN a handful of questions including about inaction by the UN on 126 rapes by the Congolese army in Minova and for "information on the killing of the four peacekeepers in Darfur, and the long-delayed update on the shooting of the Rwandan UN police officer in Haiti. Also, the now-2 reports from Cote d'Ivoire about UN action and inaction in Nahibly IDP camp killings."

  The UN responded, "with respect to your questions on Haiti, the DRC and Darfur, we have nothing to add at the present time. With respect to you questions on Cote d'Ivoire, we attach two articles that are currently appearing in the latest edition of Fraternite Matin, which covers the issue you raised."

  Fraternite Matin is controlled by the Ouattara government of Cote d'Ivoire, and the two "articles" are in fact the text, without any questions, of a long and vague speech by Koenders.

  As to Nahibly and the UN's role, Koenders claims the UN had no protection of civilians mandate, and could not fire on a crowd -- even one that was beating people to death. Does this sound like Rwanda?

  Despite for the second time jumping the gun and exonerating the UN and himself, Koenders claims that an investigation is still ongoing. Does this sound like Haiti, and the UN bringing cholera there?

  Koenders gently, ever so gently, calls on "the authorities" to complete their own investigation. Hey: practice what you preach.

  In the rest of the speech, along with much praise of the government, Koenders waxes on about "young women in the market, full of life" and "cocoa beans." Some call him Dutch Chocolate.

  Koenders is one of the UN envoys who adopted Department of Peacekeeping Operations chief Herve Ladsous' strikingly anti-Press position. (Ladsous has taken to refusing questions, and directing his spokesman to seize the UNTV microphone to avoid Press questions about the Minova rapes, click here for video.)

  Last time Koenders was at the Security Council, he declined to hold a UN Televised stakeout, instead speechifying off-camera in front of the Council. When Inner City Press, standing behind other journalists who were working stories other than Ivory Coast asked the Nahibly question, Koenders said Sir, will you please stand back? Well, no. Watch this site.

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