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Alleged Rapists Return to Chad, ICP Learns, Mali Re-Hatting Mis-Run by Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- As chief of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions. But now his whole Department is either not communicating, or offers explanations like "patrols of the M23 and the FARDC ran into each other." That's just a way to not say who attacked whom.

Ladsous decided, against the advice of many, to re-hat Chad's soldiers in Mali into the UN Mission there, MINUSMA, despite Chad being on the UN list of child soldier recruiters. Now at least four Chadian soldiers, of the 160 who left their posts in northern Mali, are accused of gang rape in Gao.

Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky about it on Thursday; he confirmed the accused are Chadians but would not saw where they are now.

On Friday morning, a UN senior official told Inner City Press that Chad had already taken the alleged rapists out of Mali. Will they be held accountable, or just hidden?

It turns about the the "re-hatting" under Ladsous was badly run, and that the 160 Chadian soldiers had not been paid. It's no excuse - but it does provide more evidence of DPKO under Ladsous.

From Thursday's UN transcript:

Inner City Press: there is now a report that this sexual abuse incident in Mali is attributed to the Chadian component. And people are linking it to in fact that same kind of unit of 160 that left Tessalit, came to Gao and had no place to stay and were driving around in 40 vehicles. So I just wanted to know, one, is there any update [and] can you either confirm or deny this idea that theÖ theÖ the allegation is that it was rape by four Chadian soldiers? And two, is there any connection between that and them having left their post and where are they now; where are these 160 Chadian soldiers?

Spokesperson: Well, I will have to come back to you on the last bit of your question. On the first aspect, I can confirm that the allegations have been levelled against Chadian soldiers, and the troop-contributing country, in other words Chad, has of course been notified. And as I have said before, the country, the troop-contributing country has primary responsibility for investigating the matter and ensuring that appropriate disciplinary and judicial measures are taken should the allegations be well founded. And the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, will offer all necessary support to the troop-contributing country to ensure that it is able to fulfil its responsibilities in this regard.

Inner City Press: When they were incorporated into MINUSMA there were questions raised because they are on the UNís child soldier recruitment list that maybe this was problematic and the various benchmarks were set on the child soldier issue for them to meet and it was said if they donít meet them they will be out of the Mission. Having these two problems both at once, is there some review of whether, you know, maybe it is not the right time to have Chad serving in that Mission?

Spokesperson: Well, there is clearly an investigation under way into this specific allegation, which is a serious allegation and which we take very seriously. And as I said on Monday, as soon as that allegation surfaced, the Mission did spring into action. And as I have said, the country has been notified and obviously has the primary responsibility to investigate. The broader question that you have raised, I would need to come back to you on that.

Inner City Press: And just one last thing on this, sorry, I know that the Secretary-General met with President Deby last night; I just wondered if maybe you can say, Iíve read the readout; it doesnít seem to get to this level of detail, but can you say whether the child soldier issue or this more recent sexual abuse issue came up in that meeting?

Spokesperson: Well, the question of these allegations relating to Chadian soldiers, the allegations that have become apparent this week, they were indeed raised by UN officials with the Chadian delegation that has been in New York this week. Yes, Pamela, last question?

But from Inner City Press, this will not be the last question on this. Watch this site.


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