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Report Shows Congo Army Uses Child Soldiers, Rules UN UNdermines in Mali

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Full Text

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- There is a lot of talk at the UN against the use of child soldiers, and to mitigate the impact of armed conflict on children. But does the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous live up to this?

  As first reported by Inner City Press, Ladsous is poised to pay as UN peacekeepers in Mali the Chadian army, which is on the UN's own list of child soldier recruiters.

  As with Ladsous' non-enforcement of the UN's supposed conditionality and human rights due diligence policies with regard to the Congolese army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova in November, the UN's stated principles are being systematically undermined.

  Pursuing the Minova abuses since last November, in the face of repeated Ladsous refusals to answer, Inner City Press asked the UN for a list of the units of the Congolese army (FARDC) which it supports. The UN, or Ladsous' DPKO, refused.

Now the new UN Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions report, which Inner City Press put exclusively online early yesterday, lists FARDC units involved with child soldiers. Two sample paragraphs, on

...cases involving the illegal detention and use of children for military purposes by the FARDC. According to FARDC and MONUSCO sources as well as local authorities in the Kisala area of Butembo territory, between February and April 2013, FARDC’s 1032nd Battalion arrested four boys aged between 15 and 17 on charges of belonging to the Nyatura rebel group. An FARDC Major subsequently enlisted three of them as cooks, while assigning the fourth to be a soldier in Mushaki with the 106th Regiment commanded by Col. Civiri.

150. In April, UNICEF separated 19 children from the FARDC 812th Regiment located at Camp Bobozo in Kananga, in Kasai Occidental province. The Regiment had rotated from North Kivu to Kananga in March, and had forcefully recruited the children before their departure from North Kivu. Four soldiers from this Regiment acknowledged to the Group that they had been aware of the presence of the minors (commonly referred to as ‘kadogo’) in their ranks. In April, UNICEF separated two minors (one of them a girl) from the same Regiment; both had been forcefully recruited.”

So has MONUSCO supported FARDC’s 1032nd Battalion or 812th Regiment?

Inner City Press already has specific questions pending at DPKO without yet an substantive response. Inner City Press has asked DPKO chief Herve Ladsous' four top spokespeople to comment on these issues -- and, incidentally, if they have a new position on their MONUSCO's January 30, 2013 press release denouncing the publication (now confirmed by the Report) of links between the FARDC and FDLR, by Inner City Press. Now, DPKO confirmed receipt more than 17 hours before this publication, but so far no substantive response.

  On questions ranging from the 135 FARDC rapes in Minova through the kidnapping of UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, the introduction of cholera into Haiti and Ladsous and Ban Ki-moon accepting as an adviser of a Sri Lankan military figure depicted in the UN's own report as engaged in war crimes, Ladsous' strategy has been to provide answers to Inner City Press' questions to other, friendlier journalists.

Now evidence has emerged that for at least one of these outlets, Reuters, the flow goes the other way to, with the provision to the UN of information ostensibly only for the UNCA group that the UN should not have, here. This is being pursued by the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info.

  Ladsous is today in Mali (where as noted he is incorporating a UN listed child soldier recruiting country into DPKO's peackeeping mission MINUSMA to be so launched tomorrow). But Ladsous, ever since Inner City Press asked about his statements during the Rwanda genocide, has refused to answer Inner City Press' questions, video compilation here. Watch this site.

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