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In DRC, UN Welcomed "Insignificant" FDLR Surrender, Ladsous Refuses Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 1 -- Sources in Eastern Congo complained to Inner City Press late last week that the supposed surrender of the Hutu FDLR militia was little but a scam. But on May 31, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced:

From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN [Organization Stabilization] Mission in [the Democratic Republic of the Congo] (MONUSCO) announced that, so far, over 100 rebels from the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda, known by the acronym FDLR, have surrendered in North Kivu. The Mission has also received reports that the group has expressed its intention to begin the surrender process in South Kivu in 72 hours. The Mission welcomes this development...”

  Inner City Press immediately asked Dujarric, video here and embedded below:

Inner City Press: on the FDLR surrender, how does this 100 or 105 -- 105 with 102 weapons is the number that I’ve seen.... Inner City Press is told that some of the people surrendering are underage children, not necessarily child soldiers, not soldiers at all. How does this surrender compare to the compare to the UN’s estimated size of the FDLR force, and is it viewed as a significant action if in fact many of the people that surrendered weren’t fighters at all?

Spokesman: I don’t have any further details on it. You can ask the Mission. Obviously, if children are involved, they will be taken care of and not treated as combatants. Thank you.

   Asking UN Peacekeeping does not work. On May 29, chief Herve Ladsous when Inner City Press asked about the 130 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, only two convictions but continued UN support to the 41st and 391st Battalions, replied "You know I do not respond to you, Mister." Video here.

  Now on Sunday, June 1 the four envoys deride what the UN "welcomed" on May 30:

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson, U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Russ Feingold, Special Representative of the African Union Boubacar Diarra, European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region Koen Vervaeke, and UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in the DRC Martin Kobler note the letter of April 18, 2014, signed by a representative of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), in which the author stated that the FDLR declared it would lay down its weapons on May 30, 2014, in two locations in North and South Kivu. Reports indicate that no such activity took place in South Kivu, and up until now, an insignificant number of low ranking combatants surrendered in North Kivu.”

   The UN "welcomed" the "insignificant number" of FDLR surrenders in North Kivu, and nothing in South Kivu, while Ladsous with his history in the region refused to answer Press questions. This is today's UN.

Background: Can a UN Under Secretary General on camera refuse to answer questions about providing military support to Army units charged with rape, and about procuring drones without required approvals, by saying “I do not respond to you”?

On May 29 in the UN Press Briefing Room, Herve Ladsous the head of UN Peacekeeping did just that, telling Inner City Press on questions of rape and drones, “You know I do not respond to you, Mister.” Video here and embedded below.

  Ladsous did it flanked by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric. He did it with no complaint or reaction from the similar head of the old UN Correspondents Association Pam Falk, who though arriving 15 minutes late was called on by Dujarric to lob a softball question before Inner City Press.

  Agence France Presse was called on -- AFP invoked the UNCA machinery against an article Inner City Press published showing that Ladsous was not Ban's first choice for the job. UNCA's board demanded outright censorship of an article about its president's conflict of interest, renting an apartment to a UN Ambassador (there's more real estate shenanigans to come, June 7).

  Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access, which opposes Ladsous' picking which media to answer, and UNCA insiders for accepting this.

  Afterward on May 29 Inner City Press asked Dujarric how this was acceptable. The question about Ladsous not applying Ban's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy after only two Congolese soldiers were convicted of 130 rapes in Minova in November 2012, Inner City Press has asked Dujarric for weeks. He has still provided no answer, nor on Ladsous' drone procurement.

  Dujarric pointed to a separate answer by USG Ameerah Haq, not on the rapes or drones but logistics in South Sudan. This was appreciated and may be separately reported. But Ladsous is bringing all of UN Peacekeeping down, not only other officials but the troops working in the field. We'll have more on this.


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