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UN Says It Hasn't Heard from Uganda on M23, Ging Says They Allow Access, Syria Compared

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 5 -- Expressing outrage at the UN Group of Experts report that Uganda as well as Rwanda support the M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ugandan media has reported that its former UN Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda would meet with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky on Monday about this, and Uganda's statement that it might remove its peacekeepers from Somalia and other countries.

  Nesirky said he was "not aware of any meeting scheduled today of that nature" and that "the UN has had no official communication from government of Uganda with respect to this matter." Video here, from Minute 28.

  The complaint of Rwanda has included questioning the impartiality of the coordinator of the Group of Experts, Steve Hege, pointing at his 2009 academic writings dismissing the threat posed by the FDLR militia. When Inner City Press first identified and pointed at these writings, they were taken off the Internet.

  Other reports have the Uganda delegation meeting "with the UN Security Council." There were no meeting in the Security Council suite of rooms on Monday -- Inner City Press checked in front -- so these would be bilateral meeting with particular Council members.

  The Security Council or at least prominent members have denounced M23 for setting up "parallel structure" in Rutshuru and environs.

  This has implied that there is something particularly pernicious about an armed group opposing a government taking the step of setting up parallel structures.

The UN's deputy humanitarian chief John Ging on Monday confirmed to Inner City Press that "the opposition in Syria" has set up such parallel structures (video here, from Minute 15:54) -- a move that the same Security Council members applaud.

  So, not to be overly naive or only so to demostrate an academic point, it is not "setting up parallel structures" per se that is being condemned, it is only when BY certain groups, or against certain governments.

   As regards the DRC, Inner City Press asked Ging if there is humanitarian access to the area controlled by M23. He said yes, listing as the primary impediment "the terrain." Video here, from Minute 10:05.

Inner City Press asked Ging if he agreed with the Security Council's condemnation of M23 setting up parallel structures.

  Ging replied, "it's a difficult question, the imperative of aid delivery is there. We want to see the people getting the assistance they desperately need. It's about saving lives. I don't want to go further than that, as you can imagine." Video here, from Minute 11:20.

  This is the humanitarian answer, and perhaps that of international humanitarian law. If you are going to control territory, you take on certain responsibilities.

  And where is the Ugandan delegation? Watch this site.

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