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On Minova Rapes, Bangura Says Unit Trained by US, 33 Perps, Ladsous Contrasts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 16 -- One of the two Congolese Army rape units in Minova was “trained by Americans,” and a general has identified 33 suspected rapists, UN envoy Zainab Bangura told Inner City Press on Tuesday. Video here, on the latter.

  Both of these contradict what the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, led by Herve Ladsous, has said.

 After Ladsous repeatedly refused to answer Inner City Press' questions about the rape (November 27, December 7, December 18 and since), DPKO told scribes from Agence France Presse and Reuters that of 12 suspensions for the rapes.

  But Bangura on Tuesday, even when asked a second time by Inner City Press, said that at least 33 presumptive rapists have been identified.

  Why would Ladsous' DPKO still be low-balling the number, after stonewalling on the rapes for more than four months? We have asked, at 10:14 am, and DPKO has acknowledged receipt (while stating it does not understand what "deadline" means. We're watching.)

  Bangura also told Inner City Press, on a follow-up, that DPKO has suspended support to the two units. That is not consistent with what's been publicly said, and Inner City Press has asked DPKO to confirm or deny.

  Bangura's answer to Inner City Press also included that the US Ambassador to the DRC told her that one of the two units had been trained by the US. What does that say about the US' training?

(Reuters, whose scribe Michelle Nichols was present, may well present these Bangura answers as another Reuters faux scoop -- who knows, maybe Nichols will file another faux UN Security complaint.)

  Inner City Press also asked Bangura if her office, on Sexual Violence and Conflict, covers abuse by UN Peacekeepers. No, she said, there is a DPKO unit for that, it is sexual exploitation.

  But what about in Haiti the UN Peacekeepers who forcibly abused or mock-raped a boy? Isn't that abuse? Inner City Presss has asked DPKO to “name the five more recent repatriations of UN Peacekeepers or police for sexual exploitation or abuse, or state why it will not.”

  Bangura told Inner City Press she is following up on the muffed hand-over of child soldiers and “war brides” in the Central African Republic, that it is “chaos” there.

  A Department of Public Information official said, anymore questions? This is the time. So Inner City Press asked Bangura about allegations from Sierra Leone, naming her, about Gates / GAVI funds missing in the Ministry of Health which she headed.

  Bangura smiled and replied that when, as Tony Blair's suggestion, she took over the Ministry of Health, there were 88 accountants, with lack of clarity who had signing authority. The missing funds, one of her aides quickly added, pre-dated Bangura taking over the ministry.

  Bangura said, that's politics, people throw unfair allegations at you. And that, on personal experience, is true. What Inner City Press received about Bangura, and asked her in fairness both to her and the sender, was on the record.

  The UN Censorship Alliance, by contrast, works anonymously in social media or comments, or filing stealth comments with UN Security, including, by AFP's Tim Witcher, explicitly in defense of Ladsous not getting asked the type of questions Bangura handled Tuesday. Watch this site.

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