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UN Saying DRC Has No Child Soldiers Is Reiterated, No Transcript

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 9 -- During the French-led UN Security Council trip in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a staffer of the UN's MONUSCO mission there "speaking to reporters" expressed "surprise at Washington's decision regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo, which last year signed an action plan with the United Nations to stop and prevent recruitment of child soldiers. 'There have been huge results... They don't recruit children any more. There's been zero tolerance,' she said."

  This is called going-local, or even, the Stockholm syndrome. Why would a child protection officer be so effusively praising a host government which the UN's own Group of Experts most recent report of June shows still involved with child soldiers?

 Inner City Press has asked for the transcript - and today got something quite different.

  First, here's from the UN's own Group of Experts report, which Inner City Press obtained and then exclusively put online as credited by, for example, the BBC:

149. The Group is also investigating cases involving the illegal detention and use of children for military purposes by the FARDC. According to FARDC and MONUSCO sources as well as local authorities in the Kisala area of Butembo territory, between February and April 2013, FARDC’s 1032nd Battalion arrested four boys aged between 15 and 17 on charges of belonging to the Nyatura rebel group. An FARDC Major subsequently enlisted three of them as cooks, while assigning the fourth to be a soldier in Mushaki with the 106th Regiment commanded by Col. Civiri.

150. In April, UNICEF separated 19 children from the FARDC 812th Regiment located at Camp Bobozo in Kananga, in Kasai Occidental province. The Regiment had rotated from North Kivu to Kananga in March, and had forcefully recruited the children before their departure from North Kivu. Four soldiers from this Regiment acknowledged to the Group that they had been aware of the presence of the minors (commonly referred to as ‘kadogo’) in their ranks. In April, UNICEF separated two minors (one of them a girl) from the same Regiment; both had been forcefully recruited.

  Since what Reuters -- hand picked by colonial powerhouse France to accompany and document what's become known as France's Genocide Joyride -- quoted Dee Brillenburg Wurth as saying contradicts the UN's own Group of Experts report, Inner City Press began asking that a transcript of what she "told reporters" be made public.

  Inner City Press asked MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler, who Wednesday gushed about the importance of critical media without answering why France was allowed to hand-pick media for the "UN" trip to DRC. No reply.

   Inner City Press asked at Monday's noon briefing -- not for more spin, but for a transcript of what Dee Brillenburg Wurth said:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the trip, there seems to have been a briefing by a MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) staffer, Dee Brillenburg Wurth, in which she is quoted as saying that the [Democratic Republic of the Congo], doesn’t recruit children, child soldiers any more. This is contrary to the Group of Experts report, which says in at least two paragraphs that they do. It was "said to reporters," is it possible to get a transcript or some audio file of what was said? And what would you say to a seeming total disparity between what MONUSCO told reporters, if not the Council, and what UN reports actually say about the recruitment of child soldiers by [the Democratic Republic of the Congo]?

Spokesperson: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t say anything at this point until I check into it myself, Matthew.

Two days later on October 9, rather than any transcript -- presumably the reason Jerome Berard of Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office accompanied the trip -- this was sent to Inner City Press:

Subject: Your question on the DRC
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 3:18 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Concerning your question on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and recruitment of child soldiers, we have the following:

In October 2012, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nations signed an Action Plan to halt and prevent the recruitment and use of children, in addition to sexual violence against children, by the national armed forces and security forces. The Congolese government is currently implementing it. There is consistent progress in the implementation of the action plan.

The FARDC now systematically separates child soldiers from its troops and hands them over to UNICEF, amongst other organizations. Progress has also been made in the facilitation of access for the United Nations to national armed forces battalions and detention centres, resulting in the separation and reunification of approximately 340 children with their families."

  The phrase, "we have the following" is unclear -- who is "we"? It's certainly not the UN Group of Experts, charged with actually investigating these topics. Is it Zerroughi's Office on Children and Armed Conflict? Is this was Dee Brillenburg Wurth told reporters, according to Reuters?

  Is this.. from Herve Ladsous, whose non-responsiveness was picked up by the UN New Statesman yesterday, here?

  And so Inner City Press again asks and will ask: why would the UN -- whoever this "we" is -- be so effusively praising a host government which the UN's own Group of Experts most recent report of June shows still involved with child soldiers? Watch this site.


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