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As Congo Army Fled M23, At Least 21 Rapes in Minova, DPKO Won't Say By Whom

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 27 -- With it still unclear if the M23 mutineers will or will not voluntarily pull out of Goma on Friday, the human rights record of the UN's partner the Congolese Army FARDC looks worse and worse, for example in Minova.

  And despite the UN's stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, about which Inner City Press reported yesterday, the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations has first delayed providing information about Minova, and still resists which FARDC units have been committing the rapes.

  On Friday, November 23 Inner City Press posed questions about the DRC, including the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, to the UN's top three spokespeople. But it was Kieran Dwyer, who manages DPKO chief Herve Ladsous' partial media stakeouts, who replied, saying on this "I am looking into it."

  After that, no further information was received until less than an hour the UN noon briefing on Tuesday, when another DPKO spokesman replied, first quoting Inner City Press' question:

Inner City Press Q: "In Minova, there have apparently been rapes and looting by FARDC units as they retreated. Has anyone from the UN system, including OHCHR, visited Minova? The FARDC units that OHCHR says committed looting and house burning in Goma, has the UN worked with them? What is the impact of the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence policy on the above."

DPKO Answer: "Yes MONUSCO has a presence in MINOVA. Though access by investigation teams remains difficult due to the security situation, MONUSCO has also actively monitoring and following-up on reports of human rights violations in the context of the fighting."

  As Inner City Press immediately replied, this seemed vague, especially after the four day wait. At the noon briefing, Inner City Press asked again about Minova -- and, as it happened, Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey in fact had more detailed information about rapes there, putting the number at twenty one.

   Inner City Press asked again, which FARDC units were present in Minova? That, DPKO must know. But DPKO seems to not want to answer, even on known damage to it own facilities. Two other answers that were sent Tuesday, four days after the questions were asked:

Inner City Press Q: 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.

DPKO Answer: There have been demonstrations against Government buildings and institutions and MONUSCO in a number of locations across the DR Congo this week. All UN staff are safe and accounted for. In terms of damage to UN buildings, assessments are still underway.

Inner City Press Q: Please describe any and all of MONUSCO's interaction with or support of elements of the Mai Mai or NYATURA so far this year and, as I asked before, how the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy was applied to all units MONUSCO is supporting or operating in concert with.

DPKO Answer: In line with its mandate, MONUSCO provides support to the FARDC only. This support is guided by its Due Diligence Policy.

   While any answer, even belated, is as Inner City Press told DPKO appreciated, this stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, as explained on November 26 by Rupert Colville of the OHCHR, here, is premised on knowing which FARDC units, commanders and personnel are involved. This, DPKO has yet to disclose.

  Meanwhile, as this piece went to press, more information from the DRC came in -- not from DPKO. While Ladsous went to give a speech in the UK rather than go to the talks in Kampala, he nevertheless will join Susana Malcorra, who did go to Kampala, in briefing the Security Council later on Tuesday. 

   Inner City Press, hoping as ever to get answers to simple questions, asked if Ladsous will do a stakeout. DPKO replied:

"As per the usual procedure, USG Ladsous stakeout will be announced in advance if and when it takes place."

  But will Ladsous answer or block simple factual questions, as about Pinga (still) or the ceasefire? Watch this site.

Footnote: Just to be sure we report DPKO's answers, no matter how late, we publish the below, even before our next Darfur story:

DPKO Answer: "Neither UNAMID nor DPKO have credible information at this time which indicates that the Governor of North Darfur has a private militia."

Watch this site.

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