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On DRC, After UN Stonewells 43 Hours on Minova, Now Ban Ki-moon Speaks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 25 -- The inaction of UN peacekeepers under Herve Ladsous as M23 mutineers took over Goma and then Sake is one of the biggest UN failures in some time.

   The UN remained silent, including on the next two of Minova. And the Ban Ki-moon spoke.

  A member of the UN's C-34, to which Ladsous first proposed drones in March of this year, has analogized it to previous UN breakdowns, such as in Srebrenica (not to say as in Congo's neighbor Rwanda in 1994).

  While the numbers in Srebrenica, which some put at 7000, were higher the structure is the same: the UN says it will protect a place, people gather and remain -- then the UN does nothing when the place is attacked. Here, the UN ended up saying it was better it did not fight.

   Better for whom?

  The UN also said that by not fighting, it could remain and "keep records." But how? And for whom?

  After Herve Ladsous refused again on November 21 to answer any Press questions, including "would MONUSCO defend Bukavu" and about the protests against the UN, Inner City Press on November 23 submitted simple questions in writing to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's three top spokesmen.

  They forwarded the Congo questions to Ladsous spokesman Kieran Dwyer, who had been the one to tell UN personnel to make sure not to give the microphone to Inner City Press, to instead search for a friendly question "en Francais."

  Dwyer, who by that and other acts appeared to become something other than a spokesman, emailed a response to basic questions, I am looking into that, before 4 pm on November 23.

  A day and a half later, despite major developments and more UN failure on the ground, including in Minova, and the statement issued by a meeting of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, neither Dwyer or the other UN spokespeople have provide any of the promised responses to the questions, including then for UN "comments and plans on the roles assigned to it by what was announced."

  Surprising in light of its failure, the UN's MONUSCO mission, which did nothing as the M23 took over Goma, was assigned the task of standing between the new territory taken by M23 and the city of Goma, which the statement says M23 should leave - except, paradoxically, for its airport. For full 24 hours after the communique, the UN had no response.

  Then, still without any responses from Ladsous' DPKO, the UN put out a statement in which Ban Ki-moon "calls on the M23 to immediately lay down their arms in accordance with the agreements reached in Kampala, and comply with the immediate withdrawal of their forces from Goma."

   Ban "is also determined to ensure that the United Nations presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo be adjusted to respond to the evolving challenges in line with relevant Security Council resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

  So why did the UN, evne under its mandate, do nothing in Goma, and why does it not answer since?

    And now DRC President Joseph Kabila has said there will only be talks with M23 if they leave Goma first. Round and round.

  On November 23, Inner City Press asked the UN to "please describe any and all of MONUSCO's interaction with or support of elements of the Mai Mai or NYATURA so far this year."

  On November 23, Ladsous' Kieran Dwyer replied, "I am looking into this." In the 43 hours since, no information has been provided. But it is widely reported that NYATURA fought alongside the Congolese army in Sake; and that the Congolese army when it retreated to Minova robbed people's houses and stores and committed rapes.

  And so questions have had to be asked, on the morning of November 24, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, including that "in Minova, there have apparently been rapes and looting by FARDC units as they retreated. Has anyone from OHCHR visited Minova?" No far, nothing.

  What was that again, about a benefit of not fighting being the ability to keep records?

  The UN has refused even to provide its records of its own damages. Inner City Press also asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople to "please specify all damage or injury to UN system staff, facilities or property in the Democratic Republic of Congo since November 20, including but not limited to in Bukavu, Bunia, Goma, Kinshasa and Kisingani."

More than three hours later, all Dwyer responded with was, "I am looking into this." And as with the question above about Mai Mai and NYATURA, no information was provided in the 43 hours since.

  How could the Department of Peacekeeping Operations purport to have no answer to this? UN buildings have been set aflame, rocks thrown at cars, mortars reportedly fired at the MONUSCO base in Monigi. But after 43 hours, no information at all was provided.

  Back on November 21, it was Kieran Dwyer who for Ladsous asked UN personnel to not give Inner City Press the microphone as its question "would MONUSCO protect Bukavu" was asked.

  Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's three spokespeople to "please state the Secretariat's position on its Department of Peacekeeping Operations' spokespeople directing staff of the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit and UN Television / audio to hold the Security Council stakeout microphone away from Inner City Press, most recently by spokesman Kieran Dwyer on November 21."

  This question was paradoxically referred to Dwyer himself, and he did not purport to answer it or even claim "I am looking into it."

  There was another, entirely factual question about Herve Ladsous, including his role during and public (and private) communications about, the Rwanda genocide in 1994, to which Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office has replied only that "We do not comment on recruitment processes." We'll have more on this.

   Meanwhile, Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations is issuing short statements about the "background" and mandate of MONUSCO. When a Tweeter with three followers asked online why the UN and its humanitarian chief Valerie Amos didn't respond as in Somalia,  with AMISOM, the UN Peacekeeping account replied with MONUSCO's mandate.

   But when asked by a more active Tweeter with hundreds of followers why Ladsous does not resign after his failures, here, there was no response from UN Peacekeeping. And so others online answered the question themselves. Who will be held accountable? Watch this site.

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