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In Cote d'Ivoire, 2 Days After UN Promises Probe, Koenders In Denial

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 -- The UN on July 25 told the Press it would fully investigate how seven Ivorian in the Niambly refugee camp were killed on July 20 while ostensibly under UN protection.

  But two days later, UN envoy Bert Koenders "dismissed allegations that peacekeepers failed in their mandate to protect civilians." Who did he speak to?

  Inner City Press first asked "for UN / DPKO position on how that camp near Duekoue in Cote d'Ivoire could be burned down and people killed while ostensibly under ONUCI protection. What did ONUCI do and what is it doing now? Is Mr. Koenders still in New York?"

  In the interim, Inner City Press spoke with Ivorian sources who said they'd like to close the camp. Will the UN collaborate in that?

After the canned announcement of an investigation, Inner City Press on July 25 asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman

Inner City Press: there’s quotes from named individuals, not off the record, on the record. For example, camp president Jean Taha says that he was beaten directly in front of the peacekeepers. 'At the moment, the white people just stopped. I tried to go to the whites, to UNOCI, and they chased themselves… they chase you away themselves. I don’t know why,' he said, holding his hand. The other guy said that UNOCI pushed them off the truck to them being beaten. So what I want to know is, what’s going to be the response by UNOCI and Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to these named individuals claiming that they were essentially thrown to the mob by the United Nations peacekeepers?

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: Well, we’ve seen the reports, Matthew, and we have to investigate. UNOCI is carrying out an investigation of what happened, and when we have a response, we will be able to give it to you.

Inner City Press: Is it fair to ask, are these two named individuals going to be spoken to, since they’ve given their names?

Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t… I don’t know how UNOCI is going to carry out its investigation, but I imagine it is going to speak with all people who were witnesses to whatever happened there. They will try to get all the information possible and report to the Secretary-General as to what happened.

  So how is it possible that two days later Ban's envoy Koenders can "dismiss allegations that peacekeepers failed in their mandate to protect civilians"? 

  Koenders on July 27 said that 22 U.N. security forces "were inside and outside the camp when it was attacked, while no Ivorian security forces were present. But he said the U.N. forces 'decided not to fire at a large group of people that were attacking the camp' in order to avoid 'a massacre.'"

  The allegations are not just that ONUCI did not fire their guns, but that they pushed people off trucks and back into the crowd to be beaten. Who did Koenders speak to?

  Or is this kind of spin part of his job, under UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous who himself refuses to take questions from Inner City Press?

   And what's happened to the promised investigation of UN peacekeepers killing one or more civilians in the Congo while firing missiles at (or near) the M23 mutineers? What happened to the UNSMIS report on Houla? Where is the UN's response to claims that it introduced cholera to Haiti? This is Ladsous' and ultimately Ban's UN. Watch this site.

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