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Amid Cote d'Ivoire Clashes, UN Irrelevant, No Koenders Probe, Ladsous Stonewalls

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- Amid armed clashed in Cote d'Ivoire and calls even at the UN in New York for investigations of peacekeepers' inaction as a camp for internally displaced people was burned down, has the UN Mission become irrelevant?

   Now a shootout has killed five more people, but reports don't even mention the UN. The envoy of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Bert Koenders, never followed through on investigating the attack on the IDP camp; it is unclear what he is doing now.

 When Koenders came to the UN back on July 18, his proposal and that of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous was to cut costs by removing a battalion from Abidjan.

  Then an attack on a base there on the Ivorian National Day resulted in at least seven soldiers killed, while separate sources tell Inner City Press that the Beninois UN Peacekeepers in the base did nothing. Ivorian source have blamed it on the mandate. Inner City Press asked the UN on August 8:

Inner City Press: This attack that took place in Abidjan, on an army base, killed seven soldiers. From what I learned yesterday, there seems to also be a UN peacekeeping base inside that base, with Beninois peacekeepers. A question arisen of why didn’t they take action, they were there but they didn’t act, and a UN News Service press release says that the attackers took ammunition and weapons from the base. So is it possible to know what are the terms of engagement of UN peacekeepers there? Why are they situated inside the Ivorian military base and why did they not act when the base was attacked?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I will check with our colleagues in DPKO.

But more than two weeks later, no answers about the probe of the IDP camp burn down have been provided. An answer about an entirely different report was provided on August 13:

"Regarding your question on the report concerning Cote d'Ivoire, the National Commission of Inquiry established in July 2011 to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the post-elections crisis completed its report in July 2012."

  Inner City Press specified it was and is asking about the probe described on July 31,2012. No response.

   DPKO chief Ladsous is on record that he will not answer any Inner City Press questions.

  Then on August 10  French Ambassador Gerard Araud did a stakeout and took questions from those who knew, Inner City Press learned of it late and ran there and asked about Cote d'Ivoire, if a battalion would still be cut after the attack in Abidjan and the destruction of the camp near Duekoue.

Araud answered, although it is not clear if he was referring to the attack on the refugee camp of presumed supporters of Laurent Gbagbo when he referred to a "village" in the west. Araud said:

First I think, the first attack was against a village in the west of the country. Mr. Koender came afterward, he told us, it's not an isolated incident, we know that there are people preparing a sort of destabilization of Cote d'Ivoire. So there is, a change of posturing, deploy in a different manner.

Araud continued that, "We thought the threat was out of Abidjan, now we have seen what happened in Abidjan. In coming days we'll see if it's possible to reduce the force in Abidjan, or if it's not possible."

It would be good, now after more than two weeks, to get an answer from Ladsous' increasingly irrelevant DPKO. Watch this site.

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