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For CAR, UN Says Has 1500 New Troops, Vetting UNclear, DRC Army In

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 10, more here -- Five days before the UN takes over peacekeeping in Central African Republic, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said we’ve been vetting the African troops that are already on the ground. We expect that by September 15 about 4800 will be rehatted from Green to Blue, if I can put it that way. We’ll have another 1500 new troops ready by September 15."

  Some will focus on the number being low. But the vetting is UNclear: under Herve Ladsous, shifting from Green into UN Blue is the DR Congo Army, on the UN's list of child soldier recruiters.

   Last month after French "peacekeepers" reported shot and killed five people in the PK5 neighborhood of Bangui in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about it on August 21, video here. Dujarric essentially said Inner City Press should have asked the UN's chief in CAR about the shootings... before they happened. From the transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about in the Central African Republic there are reports of fighting between the residents of PK-5 neighbourhood of Bangui and the French peacekeepers or soldiers, five killed, 40 injured, and I’m wondering, does the mission there, are they monitoring that, are they looking into how it happened?  What…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I’m trying to get some information from the mission.  As soon as I have it, I will share it with you.

Inner City Press:  And also, the reason, if you could ask them because there have been previous, I’m not saying that is the case in this case but there have been previous encounters which residents said that they were shot and the aggressors were the, “peacekeepers”, and each time it was said that the mission would be looking into this.  But I have yet to hear any kind of report on those, I can name the incidents or you can go back and there has been at least three and whatever happened to those?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Did you have a chance to ask General Gaye?

Inner City Press:  No.  I asked him about DRC soldiers.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Great.  I will get the Under-Secretary-General

   When Gaye took questions -- to his credit, unlike his boss Herve Ladsous -- these PK5 killings by the French soldiers hadn't yet taken place. To be fair, perhaps Dujarric was referring not to the new killings, but the older ones. But nine hours after the briefing, no further information had been provided. It may be that the problem is not (only) with the Office of the Spokesperson, but more fundamentally with UN Peacekeeping as Ladsous has been allowed to run it.

  The "DRC soldiers" question was why UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous would accept into the forthcoming UN mission in CAR, MINUSCA, the DRC Army which is still listed on the UN's child soldier recruitment list and provided impunity for 130 rapes by its soldiers in Minova, Eastern Congo in November 2012, conviction only two. Click here for that.

  Back on July 17 when Ladsous said he would take questions about peacekeeping in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press arrived early to ask about reports the current MISCA peacekeepers have killed civilians, for example in Bozoum, here.

  Ladsous however refused to answer the question. Video here.

  So on July 17, Inner City Press put the same question to UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq: what does the UN know, and what has it done about, allegations of killing by MISCA peacekeepers, proposed to be "re-hatted" in September?

  Haq told Inner City Press to "ask MISCA." So the UN has no role, and will automatically put UN "blue helmets" on these troops?

  Inner City Press also asked about media reports in Nepal that Ladsous will visit that country on July 11, ostensibly to "acquire information on the latest political situation [and] the progress made in terms of constitution writing."

  But do Ladsous and DPKO have any mandate to review constitutions? Shouldn't Ladsous if there review cholera screening, in light of bringing the disease to Haiti? Ladsous did not answer, and neither did Haq.

   On July 16 at the Security Council stakeout, first Ladsous sought out a softball question in French; then when the Press question about MISCA in Bozoum was asked, he shook his head and said, “I give the floor to Madame.”

  Earlier in the afternoon at the same UN Television stakeout, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda had answered Inner City Press' question by stating that Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations not only flew a sanctioned FDLR militia leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- Ladsous has also refused to answer Rwanda's formal June 26 complaint. Video here.

   So Inner City Press asked that question, politely but audibly. Again Ladsous refused to answer, looking desperately around for a friendly question.

 Ladsous has adopted this position -- video compilation here -- since Inner City Press asked him about his history during the Rwanda genocide in 1994, as France's Deputy Permanent Representative in the Security Council arguing for the escape of genocidaires into Eastern Congo, sample memo here.

  It was and is a straightforward question, the type public officials answer every day. But Ladsous has refused, and has gone further.

   Because Ladsous is protected -- was nominated -- by the French government which has controlled UN Peacekeeping four times in a row now, this anamoly is allowed to go on inside the UN.

  Here's how it look from outside, in the UK New Statesman. And here is a video of Ladsous ordering his spokesperson to take the microphone away so that questions about rapes by his partners in the DRC Army could not be asked.

  Here is a video of Ladsous taking the friendly scribes atop the UN Correspondents Association into the hall for a private briefing. To this has the UN descended.

  More seriously, UN Peacekeeping by most accounts brought cholera to Haiti, which has killed over 8,000 people. Inner City Press asked Ladsous, loud and clear (but nothing but polite) if his DPKO now belatedly screens peacekeepers from cholera hot spots before deployment.

  Ladsous refused to answer. To this has the UN descended. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has formally proposed that UN Under Secretaries General not be allowed to take this approach. Watch this site.


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