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UN Can't Says What Congo Copters Were Doing, of Rapes, Ladsous & Drones

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- The UN on December 28 announced that two of its helicopters were fired on in Eastern Congo two days previous, from positions north of Goma held by the M23. No injuries are mentioned; the M23 was threatened with prosecution for war crimes.

  Three full days after the UN announcement and threat, Inner City Press asked the UN some simple questions: how many times how many UN helicopters were fired on over M23 positions, and what the UN helicopters were doing; does MONUSCO tell M23 when it is flying about the territory it controls?

  Inner City Press asked for the UN response to the following statement by M23 spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vianney Kazarama: "We never attacked MONUSCO, we fired at helicopters from the FARDC, who were flying reconnaissance over M23 zones. If MONUSCO wants to fly reconnaissance over our territory, they must do so by day and they must warn us. At night, we can't make out the UN symbol."

  These questions should be easy to answer. But by close of business deadline, the UN's response was just another deferral: "On the latest MONUSCO-related questions: DPKO advises it is checking with the mission. On the FARDC-related MONUSCO question: DPKO advises that the human rights investigations continue."

  This last concerns the 126 FARDC rapes at Minova in late November about which DPKO chief Herve Ladsous has repeated refused to answer Press questions. On November 27 he refused Inner City Press' questions about Minova then took a handful of favored correspondents out into the hall (none then wrote about the rapes).

  On December 18, Ladsous had his spokesman seize the UN TV microphone to try to avoid the question being asked. The UN Department of Public Information has been petitioned about this but as of yet has done nothing.

  Inner City Press on December 31 asked the UN to clarify a statement that Ladsous did make earlier in the month to the French publication La Croix, that he wants to use drones in Eastern Congo, and that drones would have saved peacekeepers' lives in Cote d'Ivoire.

  So Inner City Press asked, Ladsous' desire for drones, does it apply to Cote d'Ivoire as well as DRC? Anywhere else? What are the approvals that DPKO recognizes as necessary before any use of drones? Does DPKO acknowledge that General Assembly approval would be required?

  On this, the UN replied "DPKO says it is continuing with its feasibility study on the use of unarmed aerial vehicles by peacekeeping operations, and with its consultations with Member States."

  But numerous member states, on the C34, were critical of Ladsous' proposal, wondering who would get the information, one alleging Ladsous already selected the French company Thales to provide the drones. Several C34 members say Ladsous is the worst head of DPKO ever.

  During this tense time, Ladsous has gone to ground. In neither French or English Google News is there any mention of Ladsous since well before Christmas. What has he been doing -- going to public relations class? Or channeling drones?

  Certainly, DPKO has not been doing its job. Inner City Press asked, "On Sudan, this is a request that the UN confirm or deny that claim by SLA - Abdelwahid Nur faction it has on December 28 captured the government office and army base in Guldo district near Central Darfur state's Nertiti town, any checking by UNAMID, any impact on civilians."

   To this, the UN replied, "On Sudan: DPKO advises it is checking with UNAMID for an update."

   On the obvious issue of why DPKO in the Congo would threaten ICC prosecution for missed shots at its helicopters at night, while making no such threat after South Sudan killed four UN crew in shooting down a helicopter, Inner City Press asked "given the statement about prosecution for war crimes made by MONUSCO, has UNMISS made such a statement about the killing of the four Russian crew?"

  Rather than take the opportunity to try to distinguish the two cases, the UN replied "On UNMISS: All mission statements are posted on its website. You can see there the statement made by UNMISS."

   It hasn't threatened prosecution. What explains the double standard? DPKO is on autopilot, operating like or by a drone. Watch this site.

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