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On Rapes in Minova, Ladsous Calls Situation Fluid, Won't Say Which Units, Policy Question Dodged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 -- When top UN Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous took questions Friday across First Avenue from the UN, he said apparently without irony that the MONUSCO mission has done a good job in Eastern Congo in the last two weeks.

  Inner City Press asked Ladsous about two specific places in the Kivus: Pinga, on which Ladsous previously refused to answer a Press question, and Minova where at least 22 women were raped after the Congolese Army retreated from Sake.

  Since the UN, specifically Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations, says it has a Human Rights Due Diligence Policy under which it will not work with or support rights abusers, Inner City Press asked Ladsous whether the Congolese Army units at issue will be named.

  Ladsous dodged the question - better than refusing it, as he did before - saying that the situation was "fluid." He said that Policy will be complied with.

  But when Inner City Press asked again the unanswered question, whether the units of the Congolese Army or FARDC in Minova at the time will be named, Ladsous did not answer at all.

  As Ladsous continued, including to say that he has no problem with the media, his spokesman seem to indicate that more information may be available.

   We hope it is, and await it, having two days ago emailed three of Ladsous spokespeople, and the two spokespeople of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon whom they copied, these questions on Minova:

"On Minova, (a) which FARDC units were present in Minova when the 21 rapes took place? (b) What was MONUSCO's presence in Minova during this time? (c) What and where are the "appropriate processes" through which DPKO will report? Are any of them public, so that compliance with the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy can be assessed?"

   As soon as these questions are answered, we will report the answers in full. Until then, we will keep asking.

   Inner City Press had to leave Friday's event, after several more statements, to continue to cover the Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security. Ladsous spoke there, with no mention on Minova or abuses by the Congo forces that MONUSCO works with.

   Nor did no respond on the reports, including in TIME Magazine, that Mai Mai Cheka rebels decapitated civilians in Pinga and the MONUSCO peacekeepers there did nothing.

The event, entitled "Telling the Peacekeeping Story Better," was held across First Avenue at the International Peace Institute, on whose Syria program Inner City Press also recently reported / tweeted.

  The program of theStorytelling on Peacekeeping event is or will soon be here -- several of the other panelists and participants spoke movingly, for example about winning over a BBC reporter to the UN's work in Sierra Leone by actually explaning and answering questions about it -- and video should be available shortly (though UN Peacekeeping's link to it wasn't working at press time.) We may have more on all this. Watch this site.

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