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In Congo, UN Blocked from Civilian Protection, Bosco in the Mix, UK Hears Nothing

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- The joint Rwandan and Congolese offensive on Hutu rebels in the Eastern Congo has involved barring access to UN peacekeepers and to the press, and appears to have involved indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda. At the UN on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador John Sawers about the blocking of Indian peacekeepers and Red Cross workers from areas in which civilians are in danger. "I haven't heard that report," Ambassador Sawers said, while saying of the operation that "taken as a whole... it is good." Video here, from Minute 5:59.

   Apparently the Security Council or at least Ambassador Sawers is so focused on the conflict in Gaza that events more directly implicating the UN are being ignored. Minutes later on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked the head of UN Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, about event in the Congo. Le Roy confirmed that peacekeepers had been blocked. Has this not been conveyed to the Council or UK Mission to the UN?

  Previously, Ambassador Sawers said he wasn't aware of the involvement of South Sudan in the offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army elsewhere in the Congo. That botched operation has left in its wake more that 600 civilians killed. What will be the body count in the parts of North Kivu from which UN peacekeepers are being barred?

  As to the involvement of Bosco Ntaganda, indicted by the International Criminal Court, UN spokesperson Michele Montas on Wednesday told Inner City Press that "whether Bosco participates in it is not of our concern." Video here, from Minute 23:45.

Blue helmets fly white flag in the Congo, Bosco participation "not of our concern"

   Not only is the ICC connected to the UN -- its State Parties are meeting in the UN Headquarters basement this week to elect judges -- but the UN and Ban Ki-moon are on record as opposing impunity, and for the enforcement of ICC warrants, for example in Sudan. The UN Secretariat, too, has been entirely consumed by Gaza.

  Ms. Montas had read out a statement from the UN's Alan Doss that his mission, MONUC, has not be involved in the offensive which is a "bilateral" arrangement between the governments of Rwanda and the Congo. But Congolese legislators in Kinshasa now say they were not consulted, just as they were not consulted on President Joseph Kabila's $9 billion mineral arrangement with the Chinese. Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas if Doss' formal statement implied that the UN views the agreement with Rwanda as effectively approved by all necessary Congolese authorities. No, Ms. Montas said, MONUC "has nothing to say about that." Video here, from  Minute 23:03.

  Inner City Press asked the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to UN, Atoki Ileka, about Bosco and the legislator's protest. Ileka called the former "murky," and pointed out of the legislator that "he comes from the area, he has to say that." People, including the Ambassadors on the UN Security Council, seem to want to close their eyes and hope the offensive against the FDLR works out, certainly better than the one on the Lord's Restistance Army. But what about civilians?

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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