Friday, February 12, 2016

On Burundi CAR Repatriations, Reuters Pilfers Two Day Old Press Story and Covers Up UN's Ladsous, Burundi's Baratuza



By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 -- Two days after Inner City Press on February 9 reported, documented and publicly asked the UN about the repatriation of Burundian troops from the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, Reuters belatedly "saw" the repatriation and repackaged it as its own.

  In doing so, Reuters ignored that UN Peacekeeping had previously been deploying yet another human rights abuser from Burundi, Gaspar Baratuza, until civil society alerted the Press and the UN begrudgingly repatriated him.

  UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous has, in fact, gone out of his way to allow Burundians to "serve" in CAR -- while delivering the pay to the Nkurunziza government -- including through an October 1 meeting with the country's vice president on which Inner City Press also reported and asked the UN.

  Inner City Press has in fact been asking UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, at numerous UN noon briefings, about even these most recent Burundian troops, by name, since 2015. Significantly, while even after Inner City Press published proof of the repatriation on February 9, Dujarric replied at that day's noon briefing he had no information.

  Apparently he either didn't seek or disclose the confirmation, which Herve Ladsous' mission in CAR then belatedly delivered up to Reuters. This is how it works: by analogy, a crime syndicate.

  Reuters UN bureau chief Lou Charbonneau previously wrote to Dujarric seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, here. When this was exposed and Charbonneau's request was published, Charbonneau using the name of Reuters cited copyright to Google to get the leaked document removed from Google's search, shown here by the Chilling Effects project / EFF.

   After a hand-off, Reuters correspondent tried the same, and most recently cut into Inner City Press' questions in even the UN briefing room about UN corruption. To this has Reuters at the UN sunk.

Perhaps in light of this history, the February 11 story is bylined not from the UN - but surely Google, to see that the story had already been reported and asked about the "seen" document published, exists elsewhere. The story was dutifully dumped on the Daily Mail, Malaysia's Star Online and, yes, StreetInsider.com. Exposed, itcontinues.

What is wrong with Reuters, and why does it do what it do? We'll have more on this.

 Since this has become a pattern with Reuters, at least at the UN, Inner City Press asked Stephen J. Adler, Walden Siew and Paul Ingrassia and othr Reuters bigwigs to state the company's policies. It never happened. We'll have more on this.

Amid killings by the security forces in Burundi, the Pierre Nkurunziza government with the agreement of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has undertaken to deploy officers allegedly involved in human rights abuses into Ladsous' Central African Republic mission, MINUSCA, see below.

  Since last year, Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN about the deployments of Pierre Niyonzima, Jean Bosco Mushimantwari and Jimmy Rusheshe.

  After weeks of stonewalling, Inner City Press can now report that at least these three are being sent back to Burundi, per OHCHR. But, amazingly, even after Inner City Press published the Feb 5 memo, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on February 9 when Inner City Press asked refused to confirm it. Video here.

Dujarric said he would get an update - but five hours later none was provided. See below.



   But even when caught red-handed, the games of UN Peacekeeping and Burundi continue, with the switching of military grade of officers whom the Pierre Nkurunziza government wants to reward with UN posts, often for the abuses they committed.

  Inner City Press asked repeatedly about (mis-classified) Gaspard Baratuza, and finally he was rejected by UN Peacekeeping for a Public Information post in the Central African Republic. The UN has refused to answer on other deployments - and now, even on deployment which are fully documented.

On January 5, after publishing the documents, Inner City Press asked the UN about a murder, and a deployment.  Transcript here.

  Inner City Press has obtained the UN and Burundian Mission to the UN documents keeping the CAR post for Burundi, by mis-classifying full Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza as a mere Lt Colonel. It is signed by UN Peacekeeping's Maqsood Ahmed.



  Running this scam for Burundi is its reclusive Ambassador to the UN Albert Shingiro, who mocked his countrymen when they protested in front of the UN, and blocks the Press from his Twitter feed.



 And now, Nkurunziza says no talks on January 6, nor January 16; still no confirmation ofa Security Council visit January 22-25. What will Ban Ki-moon say? Who knows - his UN Corruption Association accepts "no Q&A." Watch this site.

  Now Nkurunziza's Imbonerakure militia members are quoted by APthat "We would like to warn African Union troops that the majority of Burundians don't want them and they should not impose themselves on the people of Burundi." Here is a video of the ruling party demonstrations, on Facebook.

  Also on Facebook, Burundi's Permanent Representative to the UN Albert Shingiro -- who blocks Inner City Press from his Twitter feed -- tried to mock a protest by follow Burundians which Inner City Presscovered on December 23, here. Some diplomacy: banning the Press from his statements, mocking rather than seeking to dialogue with his countrymen. To this has Burundi sunk.

 On December 24, Inner City Press asked for the second timevideo here:

Inner City Press: whether you have any... first, any readout of Mr. Benomar's travels and attempts to speak with the Government in the region.  I'm asking you... yesterday there was… you may have seen it; you may not have seen it… there was a protest outside the building by Burundians, and in speaking with them, they judge the performance of the Secretariat as weak.

And I wanted to know, just to get, I guess, your response to that, and if there's any update on the deployment of these two, Pierre Niyonzima and Jimmy Rusheshe, both of whom have been linked to the hospital killings in May…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  On your second part, no, I have no update than what was given.  I know there are discussions going on.  I don't have an update to share with you.  On your first part, I think we can all agree on the frustration of the Burundian people as they see the violence increase in their country.  The Secretary-General, through the work of his Special Envoy, is very much focused on finding ways to move the political dialogue forward and to obviously see an end to the current violence that we're seeing.  He is currently in Kampala in Uganda meeting with local officials, and I believe there will be talks there early next week.

Inner City Press:  Will your office be sending stuff out during this break?

Spokesman:  Obviously, as I said, we'll be fully staffed.  If there are updates to share, we will share them with you.

   Back on December 17 Inner City Press was told, the third time it asked, that the Burundi's Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza's deployment to the UN mission in CAR had been suspended, and Baratuza was being repatriated. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who has shielded Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from such Press questions, said "it's an example of the [vetting] policy working."

 But Inner City Press has obtained the Burundi government document for the deployment not only of Baratuza but other officers in Ladsous' MINUSCA. Today we focus and ask about Major Pierre Niyonzima.

According to Inner City Press' sources, Niyonzima not only defended extrajudicial executions, he participated in them.  On May 14, they say, Major Niyonzima was the Senior army officer who led the attack on the hospital where those accused of involvement in the attempted coup were slaughtered.  They say Niyonzima reports to Guillaume Bunyoni and has been involved in killings in Musaga, Nyakabiga and Mutakura. We'll have more on this, and on other deployees to Ladsous' MINUSCA, including  Jimmy Rusheshe.

On December 21 Inner City Press asked the UN's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about these deployments, and the Burundian government's rejection of the African Union's proposed deployment, video here,transcript here:

Inner City Press: on Burundi, as you know, the African Union Peace and Security Council has made this proposal 5,000 peacekeepers and set a 96-hour deadline for the Government to respond.  The assembly has met and rejected it and said it would be a violation of the sovereignty of the country.  So, I wanted to know, what is the Secretariat… Mr. [Jamal] Benomar, what do they… you think of both the [African Union Peace and Security Council] taking a seemingly fairly aggressive protection of civilian stance and the Government rejecting it? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, regarding that, I believe that the discussions will continue with the African Union and the Government of Burundi.  But, we certainly support the efforts by the African Union and its Peace and Security Council to deal with the protection of civilians in Burundi.  We've made clear our alarm at recent developments and the need for there to be additional steps to bring the tensions on the ground to a halt.  As you know, the Security Council itself has been apprised by the Secretary-General of various options for the way forward, and we await their guidance on that.  Meanwhile, Mr. Benomar has started some of his travels.  I believe he was in Washington, D.C., in the last few days, and he is expected to head to the region shortly.

Correspondent:  And then… thanks a lot.  I wanted… something a little more specific.  It has to do with this vetting of troops from Burundi, but I guess you could say elsewhere.  I know it was said last week that Gaspard Baratuza, a Deputy Spokesman of the army, was being repatriated.

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.

Inner City Press:  But, I've since seen a letter… it was his deployment letter, but it also involved two other majors in the army who are said to have been involved in the… the assault on a hospital in May, right after the coup attempt in which people were killed in their beds, and these involve Mr. Pierre Niyonzima and Jimmy Rusheshe.  And both of them, according to a letter from the Burundian Army, are… were being deployed to the UN in the Central African Republic.  So, I wanted… I guess I want to ask you, like, what does the vetting consist of?  What was the vetting that Mr. Baratuza failed that these two individuals apparently don't fail, given their involvement in extrajudicial executions?

Deputy Spokesman:  As we get information… if any information causes us to have concerns about deployment, it is reviewed in that light.  In that light, Mr. Baratuza, his suspension was first delayed, and then he was repatriated.  And so, depending upon the information, as we get it, we'll act upon it.

Inner City Press:  So, does… I guess what I'm saying is does the… either the human rights presence of the UN in Burundi have information about those who commanded the assault on this hospital, it's called Bumerec Hospital, in May and the connection to the people that were being deployed?

Deputy Spokesman:  Like I said, we… yes, we do have a human rights presence in Burundi.  As we get information, we act upon, and that includes anyone being deployed.


Obtained by Inner City Press

Ladsous' lack of vetting was criticized in the recently released report into the cover up of peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic. Earlier, Inner City Press exclusive reported on Ladsous in his October 1, 2015 meeting with Burundi's vice president saying that he is "pragmatic" on human rights.

 On December 16 Inner City Press was banned from questions to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but learned from the mission MINUSCA that Baratuza was already in Entebbe. Inner City Press asked several Security Council members, then Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on December17.

Dujarric told Inner City Press Baratuza's deployment is suspended and he is being repatriated: "based on the information we've received regarding the Lieutenant Colonel, his deployment has been suspended, and he will be repatriated back to Burundi." Video here. Dujarric told Inner City Press this shows the UN system working - on a day when a report on rapes was issued showing UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous not sufficiently vetting for human rights. We'll have more on this.



 Amid the escalating killings in Burundi, last weekend's summary executions in neighborhoods opposed to Pierre Nkurunziza's third term stand out. But Burundi Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza was quoted on December 12 blaming all of the deaths on attempts to steal weapons to free prisoners.

   Inner City Press had heard that Mr. Baratuza was already in the process of being deployed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) even when he was giving these quotes, issuing statements and speaking to state-owned radio, and so asked MINUSCA's acting spokesperson, “Is Gaspard Baratuza of Burundi's army getting a MINUSCA job?”

  On December 16, hours before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a rare press conference, MINUSCA's acting spokesperson sent this to Inner City Press:

"To: Matthew.Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
From: Vladimir MONTEIRO [at] UN.org
Date: Wed, Dec 16, 2015
Subject: ICP question: Gaspard Baratuza of Burundi's army getting a MINUSCA-related post?
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

"No decision related to Lt Col Baratuza's deployment can be taken before we finish looking into the matter. We can confirm that Lt Col Baratuza is in Entebbe but he has not yet deployed to MINUSCA.  Regards. VNM"

There are some questions about Baratuza, a Colonel in Burundi's Army, being listed by the UN as “Lt. Col.”

  Despite multiple follow-up questions by Inner City Press, Mr. Monteiro - previously a spokesperson for the UN electoral mission in Burundi - replied that “This is what we can say about this issue.”

   But the UN should have to say more. Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN how its Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous vets those who deploy to UN missions; Inner City Pressexclusively reported on an October 1, 2015 meeting in which Ladsous told Burundi's Vice President Joseph Butare that he is “pragmatic” on human rights.



 Ban Ki-moon and his spokesman declined to take Inner City Press' questions on December 16, as they did on December 14. Vine here. But concerned members of the UN Security Council have now been asked about Baratuza by Inner City Press. Watch this site.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Syria, ISSG Statement from Munich, Here, Live Blog of Munich Presser



By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- When the UN pulled the plug on the Intra-Syrian Talks, or merely as envoy Staffan de Mistura said pushed them back to February 25, de Mistura said that the UN "is not prepared to hold talks for the sake of talks."

 Now from Munich on February 11, this below has been issued. In the press conference that followed, three questions were taken: New York Times, Russian N TV, and BBC Arabic.

Russia's Sergey Lavrov brought up Ukraine, and said he would not mention Palestine. (One waited to hear of Yemen.) He said the Financial Times misused what Ban Ki-moon said, that Ban hadn't blamed Russia. (Inner City Press witnessed Ban enter the Security Council soon after Vitaly Churkin on February 9, but Ban's spokesman refused to say why.) We'll have more.

"Meeting in Munich on February 11 & 12, 2016, as the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States decided that humanitarian access will commence this week to besieged areas, and an ISSG task force will within one week elaborate modalities for a nationwide cessation of hostilities.

The ISSG members unanimously committed to immediately facilitate the full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted unanimously December 18, 2015. The ISSG reaffirmed their readiness to carry out all commitments set forth in the resolution, including to: ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué in its entirety; press for the end of any indiscriminate use of weapons; support and accelerate the agreement and implementation of a nationwide ceasefire; facilitate immediate humanitarian access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas and the release of any arbitrarily detained persons; and fight terrorism.

Ensuring Humanitarian Access

In order to accelerate the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid, sustained delivery of assistance shall begin this week by air to Deir Ez Zour and simultaneously to Fouah, Kafrayah, the besieged areas of Rural Damascus, Madaya, Mouadhimiyeh, and Kafr Batna by land, and continue as long as humanitarian needs persist. Humanitarian access to these most urgent areas will be a first step toward full, sustained, and unimpeded access throughout the country.

The members of the ISSG will use their influence with all parties on the ground to work together, in coordination with the United Nations, to ensure that all parties allow immediate and sustained humanitarian access to reach all people in need, throughout Syria, particularly in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, as called for in UNSCR 2254. To this end, the UN will submit a plan to an ISSG humanitarian task force, which shall convene on February 12 and next week. This group will comprise the ISSG co-chairs, relevant UN entities and members of the ISSG with influence on the parties in a position to ensure humanitarian access.

The ISSG reaffirmed that humanitarian access should not benefit any particular group over any other, but shall be granted by all sides to all people in need, in full compliance with UNSCR 2254 and international humanitarian law. The ISSG asks the UN to report weekly, on behalf of the task force, on progress on the implementation of the plan referenced above, so that in any cases where access lags or approvals are lacking, relevant ISSG members will use their influence to press the requested party/parties to provide that approval. There will be a process for resolving any problems so that relief can flow expeditiously. Any questions about access or delivery will be resolved through the task force.

All ISSG members commit to immediately work together with the Syrian parties to ensure no delay in the granting of approval and completion of all pending UN requests for access in accordance with UNSCR 2254, paragraph 12.
                 
ISSG co-chairs and members will ensure that aid convoys are used solely for humanitarian purposes. International humanitarian organizations, in particular the United Nations, will play the central role, as they engage the Syrian government, the opposition and local populations, in arranging the monitoring and sustained and uninterrupted distribution of aid.

Achieving a Nationwide Cessation of Hostilities

The ISSG members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.

The ISSG members decided to take immediate steps to secure the full support of all parties to the conflict for a cessation of hostilities, and in furtherance of that have established an ISSG ceasefire task force, under the auspices of the UN, co-chaired by Russia and the United States, and including political and military officials, with the participation of ISSG members with influence on the armed opposition groups or forces fighting in support of the Syrian government. The UN shall serve as the secretariat of the ceasefire task force. 

The cessation of hostilities will commence in one week, after confirmation by the Syrian government and opposition, following appropriate consultations in Syria.  During that week, the ISSG task force will develop modalities for the cessation of hostilities.

The ISSG task force will, among other responsibilities continue to: a) delineate the territory held by Daesh, ANF and other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council; b) ensure effective communications among all parties to promote compliance and rapidly de-escalate tensions; c) resolve allegations of non-compliance; and d) refer persistent non-compliant behavior by any of the parties to ISSG Ministers, or those designated by the Ministers, to determine appropriate action, including the exclusion of such parties from the arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and the protection it affords them. 

Although a cessation of hostilities can facilitate humanitarian access, it cannot be a precondition for such access anywhere in Syria.
                                                                                  
The ISSG decided that all members will undertake their best efforts, in good faith, to sustain the cessation of hostilities and delivery of humanitarian assistance, and take measures to stop any activities prohibited by United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, 2199, 2249, 2253, and 2254. The ISSG again expressed concern for the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons and the imperative of building conditions for their safe return in accordance with the norms of international humanitarian law and taking into account the interests of host countries.

Advancing a Political Transition

The members of the ISSG reaffirmed the imperative of all sides engaging in negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations as soon as possible, in strict compliance with United Nations Security Council 2254. They reaffirmed that it is for the Syrian people to decide the future of Syria. The members of the ISSG pledge to do all they can to facilitate rapid progress in these negotiations, including the reaching of agreement within six months on a political transition plan that establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.

Full implementation of these objectives will require the ISSG co-chairs and members, the UN and others, to work closely on political, humanitarian, and military dimensions. "

  Inner City Press on February 10 asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft about the exclusion of the Kurdish PYD from the talks. Video here.

  Rycroft, one of the few Security Council Ambassadors who still speaks to the media gaggle on his way into the Council, told Inner City Press he didn't want to second-guess the co-chairs of the talks, de Mistura, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov.

  Back on February 5, the UN Security Council met to hear from de Mistura by video, behind closed doors. Afterward, Inner City Press asked three of the Permanentn Representatives in attendance why the Kurdish PYD had been excluded from the talks.

 Security Council President for February Rafael Ramirez of Venezuela said, Yes, this had been discussed. Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said since Kurds at 15% of Syria, they should be included - and that if Turkey supports Syria's territorial integrity, it should stop blocking the PYD.

  But after French Ambassador Francois Delattre speechified at the UNTV microphone and had taken two questions, Inner City Press asked quite audibly about the PYD. Video here.  Delattre's spokesman directed that the UNTV microphone be given to Reuters for a vague question, then Delattre said, C'est fini.

  Inner City Press asked again, loudly, about the PYD. Delatte walked away, indicating as he has before, I will have to get back to you. But he has not, for eaxmple on Burundi. Later Inner City Press heard rumblings about the use of Periscope -- see here for acts of Voice of America -- which, ironically, a number of Security Council delegations use and follow Inner City Press on. But what ABOUT the PYD? Watch this site.

On the way in, UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft stopped and took five questions from four media, largely blaming Russia for the pause in the talks. Video here.

  Inner City Press tried asking, third time until it worked, what about the “petty procedural issues” that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had also blamed in his post-pause statement. A definition has yet to be given; Rycroft replied to Inner City Press' question on what the opposition should do on February 25 by saying that the opposition needs to be shown it is supported.

   For balance, Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was asked about this accusation and called it “in bad taste.” Churkin added, “They should blame those who support the terrorists. It's not a Russian escalation, it's intensified efforts by the government to fight the terrorists.”

 On February 4 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked Rycroft's Deputy Peter Wilson what Ban Ki-moon meant by "petty procedural" and other issues stalling the talks. Video here, and see below.

 Later on February 4 the UN Mission of Venezuela, President of the Security Council for February, issued a statement that, on February 5 the Security Council will hold a meeting to evaluate the political situation in Syria after the talks were suspended for three weeks by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General Staffan de Mistura.

  Venezuela's Ambassador Rafael Ramirez said in his national capacity, “We are in favor of dialogue without any preconditions, and the most important thing is that the countries that have influence with the government or the opposition are committed to and confident in the negotiations.”

  Inner City Press asked Ramirez if Sudan will speak on the debate on sanctions on February 11; Ramirez said yes. On February 1 Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access (FUNCA) asked Ramirez to hold such Q&A stakeouts after closed door meetings: and on February 4, he did. Tweeted photo here.

  The UK's Peter Wilson said the London Conference is "our" (UK) focus, and to pay attention to the speech Ban gave. On that way to the UN Security Council stakeout, another country's diplomat told Inner City Press there would be a session with de Mistura on February 5.

  As Inner City Press was filming the Q&A with Wilson, the correspondent from Voice of America took two photographs... of Inner City Press' phone. The gola, we surmise for past and recent experience, may be to Ban filming and whole technologies at the UN Security Council stakeout and even elsewhere in the UN, which the old UN Correspondents Association has tried to do in the past.

 The new Free UN Coalition for Access (FUNCA) would oppose that - watch this site, and note that many Security Council delegations use Periscope, and the UN itself purports to promote social media.

  Notably, de Mistura's statement did not cast blame for the failure - but hours later, Reuters channeled a "senior UN official" it allowed to remain unnamed:

"A senior U.N. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that de Mistura called a halt to the talks after Russia increased air strikes to help the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, undermining the negotiating process. 'I think the special envoy decided to suspend the talks because the (United Nations) did not want to be associated with the Russian escalation in Syria, which risks undermining the talks completely,' the official said."

  Reuters did not explain WHY it granted anonymity to this described "senior UN official." But since even this source said he or she "thinks" de Mistura decided, it called into question, what kind of source is this? UN Political chief Feltman, whom Reuters UN bureau chief has previously used, would not "think" what de Mistura decided. 

 But now Ban Ki-moon has said, or read, what the unnamed senior UN official said, albeit without naming any country, see below.

 Does Reuters grant (more) anonymity to Ban Ki-moon?

 At the UN in New York on February 3, Reuters' correspondent actively cut off Inner City Press questioning about UN corruption, saying "you're grasping at straws." Vine herestory here.


  Meanwhile the UN bureau chief promoted himself appearing at aVienna UN event, top-heavy with Reuters connections.

 On February 4, Ban said this:

"It is deeply disturbing that the initial steps of the talks have been undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombings and military activities within Syria.  The focus on the people of Syria is also being lost amid petty procedural matters."

  Ban Ki-moon and petty? Say it ain't so.

Back on December 18 in the Lotte New York Palace Hotel, ministers Lavrov and Gentiloni, Fabius and Kerry passed through with entourages; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left early typically without answering any questions, as Inner City Press Periscoped andreported. Hours later, the draft resolution was agreed to, then adopted 15-0 by the UN Security Council, here.

 On December 26, the UN issued this for its envoy Staffan de Mistura:

"Further to resolution 2254 (2015) of the Security Council, unanimously adopted on 18 December 2015, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, has intensified efforts towards convening representatives of the Syrian Government and the broadest possible spectrum of the Syrian opposition and others to engage in a political process leading towards implementation of the objectives and principles for a political solution to the Syrian conflict as contained in the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012, and the Vienna Statements of 30 October and 14 November 2015.

"In line with the clear parameters outlined in Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), the Special Envoy intends to complete his consultations in early January, with a view to initiating intra-Syrian talks on a target date of 25 January 2016 in Geneva. He counts on full cooperation of all the relevant Syrian parties in this process. Continuing developments on the ground should not be allowed to derail it. The Special Envoy also relies on the continued crucial support of the International Syria Support Group.

The people of Syria have suffered enough. Their tragedy is now felt throughout the region and beyond. They deserve the full attention and commitment from all their Syrian representatives, who should now show leadership and vision to overcome differences for the sake of Syria."

 The day before, on December 25, on Syria UNRWA's spokesman Chris Gunness said:

"UNRWA welcomes any developments that could end the armed conflict in and around Yarmouk, and ease the inhuman conditions that Palestine refugees and other civilians are in Yarmouk continue to endure. Over the past three months, there have been persistent reports of negotiations for some form of truce or evacuation arrangement in Yarmouk.  These reports are credible and UNRWA is taking them seriously, although they have not been officially or formally confirmed, and details have been vague. There are several thousands of civilians living in deeply abject conditions in Yarmouk. As UNRWA is deeply concerned about their well-being, the Agency is seeking from the Syrian government further details of any negotiated arrangements that will affect the humanitarian situation of civilians in Yarmouk. In particular, UNRWA demands that any arrangements being negotiated in and around Yarmouk must include guarantees for a durable cessation of hostilities, for the protection of civilians, and for safe, uninterrupted humanitarian access for UNRWA and other humanitarian actors. UNRWA is redoubling its strong appeals to the Government of Syria and relevant actors to allow and facilitate humanitarian access to Yarmouk.  This is urgently needed to enable UNRWA to   deliver food, clean water, winter supplies,  healthcare,  and other humanitarian assistance and services to civilians in Yarmouk. UNRWA stands ready immediately to respond to the humanitarian needs of the entire civilian population of Yarmouk."

  Meanwhile the head of Jaysh al Islam Zahran Alloush was killed al Ghouta.

  Back on December 18 at the UN the US day ended in a bilateral meeting between Iranian minister Zarif and John Kerry -- a photo spray was canceled -- and a low key meeting on Iraq and Turkey that we asked about and reported on here.

  Kerry and Lavrov, joined by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, held this three-question press conference. Kerry said the negotiations should begin in mid to late January (in contrast to the early January in the resolution). Lavrov said only the “patriotic opposition” should be involved in negotiations. Staffan de Mistura said very little.

  That Kerry's spokesman John Kirby, who ran the press conference, gave the second question to the Washington Post, and the third to Russian media, was perhaps understandable. But the first question, Kirby set aside for “Al Arabiya.”  The question quickly turned into three, after being branded for “UNCA,” now the UN Corruption Association, a group which sold seats with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for $6000 only earlier this week.

 We now add: UNCA gave one of its prizes, a free trip to Turkey, to one of its Vice Presidents, from Agence France Presse. Even Kellogg's prohibits its employees from competing for its prizes. But not UNCA, which ignoring the Iraq - Turkey meeting in the Security Council was trying to buy people with Prosecco on December 18, after selling seats with Ban for $6,000.

  Several other UN-based journalists -- not (only) this one -- complained afterward that the first question and attempted follow up were a “Saudi circus” which made the UN press corps look bad -- as did attempt to throw out certain journalists, photographers, from the front row at the beginning.

   Afterward a photo spray of a meeting between Kerry and Iran's Zarif was declared “by invitation only” and then canceled. In the Security Council, with very few journalists still at the stakeout, the US presidency began the meeting on Iraq's complaint against Turkey being in its territory. We'll have more on this.

After the vote inside the Council Lavrov said, “The unanimous adoption today on the Council has created a broad front on the basis of the UN Charter, on the basis of all of those who are pushing back against terror, including the Syrian army, [some] armed militias, parts of the Syrian opposition, and the Russian air forces, in response to the legitimate request of the Syrian government."

Inside as Nasser Judeh of Jordan spoke, UN TV cut repeatedly to Syria's Bashar Ja'afari, looking more and more skeptical. France's Fabius spoke briefly and left. Outside at the stakeout, talk turned to a Kerry press conference, open to all.

 Italy's Paolo Gentiloni, by contrast, scheduled a press availability only for Italian media. A wag from the Free UN Coalition for Access asked, Isn't Gentiloni the foreign and not interior minister? Isn't he running for a Security Council seat? We'll have more on this.

In the  hotel lobby in the late morning a Permanent Five member of the Security Council's spokesperson briefed a gaggle of journalists in the lobby amid hissed that it was “off the record.”

  There was a gingerbread model of the NY Palace hotel which, the sign said, took 300 hours to make. All that was lacking, one wag - this one - snarked on Twitter, was a little gingerbread Laurent Fabuis.

 Back that UN, the 1 pm stakeout by the EU's Mogherini was postponed and then canceled. The Security Council scheduled for 3 pm got pushed back to 4.  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Ban had spoken, what would he have said? Vine here.

On December 17, the day before Syria talks resumed at the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan, finance ministers spoke in the UN Security Council about cutting off financing for ISIS. French finance minister Michel Sapin spoke darkly of the use of pre-paid cards for the November 13 Paris attacks; Russia's Ambassador Churkin named two Turkish companies as involved in ISIS oil sale.

  Inner City Press asked Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, who came to take questions at the Council stakeout, about ISIS' oil. He named Turkey, then want on to name Qatar and Saudi Arabia, slamming its “Sunni coalition” recently announced.

  When US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, along with Sapin and the UK's George Osborne held a short press conference in the UN briefing room, Inner City Press hoped to asked Sapin about pre-paid cards, and Lew and Osborne about Bitcoin. But the question, just four, were limited to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the New York and Financial Times. So it goes.

   It seems there will be no Press access at the New York Palace; Ja'afari has said he will speak, at the UN, and whatever ISSG press availability there is should be at the UN, with a 3 pm meeting on December 18 scheduled. Watch this site.

Back on December 8, Inner City Press put thee questions to  Turkey's Ambassador Cevic. Video here.   Here's fast transcript byInnerCityPro.com:

Inner City Press: On Syria, do you think the Vienna process meeting should take place in New York on the 18th? Are you satisfied with the Saudi process for choosing the opposition?

Amb Cevik: The plans, I don’t know how fixed, I mean how clear it is, but we are making our preparations for the meeting.

Inner City Press: Are there any groups invited to Saudi Arabia that you think shouldn’t be part of the opposition delegation?

Amb Cevik: I think so far, in our view, they are working on the right concept. Let’s see if they succeed. Having a coalition group that would be able to take part in the process is one of the most important things.
Inner City Press: [Russia] said the group that killed their pilot should be put on the terror list. Do you have any view on that?

Amb Cevik: If they know the specifics, I don’t know. But to our knowledge, there was no terrorist organization, no extreme Daesh, Nusra, in that area. They are the Turkomens, and we know them, they are moderate people.

  This may be an issue. Watch this site.

On Rapes, Inner CIty Press Asks UN Why Pushed Back Report Due January into March, Ladsous Remains



By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- Amid a litany of rape charges against UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press on January 27 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman to confirm new allegations in the Central African Republic by Republic of Congo and DR Congo troops.. The spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, declined. But on February 4, it was confirmed.

 On February 11, Inner City Press exclusively reported and then asked the UN about, member states went to the UN's 38th floor to ask where Ban's response to the issues and Deschamps report is. It was due by the end of January, as Inner City Press has asked.

  Now, the sources told Inner City Press, Ban is trying to delay it until March. Ban in fact wasn't there to meet the member states on February 11 - he is in Canada -- and neither was his Deputy Jan Eliasson. The task fell to Chief of Staff Edmond Mulet, who replaced Susana Malcorra before she issued the promised response. So it goes at the UN.

At the February 11 noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on the sexual abuse allegations,  I want to ask you to confirm that a number of Member States met this morning on the 38th Floor with Mr. Mulet about the still-not-released or completed response to the Deschamps Report.  And I wanted to know, is it true that this is, in fact, now being delayed until March?  And if so, why is that?  A number of them said it's kind of a legacy issue for Ban Ki-moon, and so what can you say to those who would say it was supposed to be the end of January and now it's going into March?  Why is that?

Spokesman:  It's obviously, it's not that it's a legacy issue for the Secretary-General.  It's an issue that is very close to the Secretary-General's heart, and he wants to be very firm in dealing with the issues raised by the Deschamps Report.  I think an important step… a number of steps already have been put into place, whether it's quicker reporting on the ground, whether it's putting the right procedure, you know, improved procedures in the Office of Legal Affairs on how to deal with issues that may arise to make sure that their cases are treated promptly.  As you will have seen, the Secretary-General has appointed Jane Holl Lute to be his sort of coordinator and point person on the issue of sexual abuse within the UN system.  All of that flows from the Deschamps Report.  Obviously, when we are ready to announce things more officially, we will do so, but I think it is something we are working on as quickly as possible and as thoroughly as possible.

Inner City Press: is there some reason for the delay?  Because a number of the people there…

Spokesman:  There are, you know, we've announced a number of steps since the Deschamps Report has come out.

The head of UN Peacekeeping who has on video linked the rapes to R&R, Herve Ladsous, remains in place. The UN has done nothing. Will new French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault belatedly take action on Ladsous, put in place by France as the fourth French head of DPKO in a row? Watch this site.

 More than a week after Inner City Press' January 27 question, and nearly two weeks after the UN learned of the rape charges, the UN announced them on February 4. Dujarric's Deputy Farhan Haq read them out, and Inner City Press asked questions, transcript here.

On January 29, first High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid then this same UN spokesman issues statement about (what else), new rape charges in CAR. But even these lists do not appear to be complete, omitting alleged rapes that UN officials have spoken about involving UN peacekeepers from Burundi, the Republic of Congo and Gabon.

  Inner City Press asked now departing Assistant Secretary General Anthony Banbury about these still unreported cases, and why it was him and not the head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, who was answering for the charges at the UN's January 29 briefing. Banbury said reporting is getting fast; he also said he “doesn't buy” that anyone fears retaliation if they report sexual abuse charges. Video here.

  Given that even an official at the rank of Ander Kompass was pursued in the UN “legal” system for reporting, the claim seemed strange. Another reporter said it was not credible; the spokeman said that's not a question and the briefing was over.

  Banbury, visibly upset, shed tears during the briefing. But again, why isn't Ladsous as the person responsible, named in the Deschamps report as having failed to vet contingents subsequently charged with rapes, the one answering questions?

  In the briefing, the UN set aside the first question for a representative of the UN Correspondents Association, and then two UNCA board members: none of these questions involved the head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous. We'll have more on this.

Having been told by sources of more rapes by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press on January 26 reported them and on January 27 asked the UN's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric to confirm them - but wouldn't. UN transcript hereVideo here.




  So what is the protocol of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, who linked the rapes to "R&R," here? How many more do they know about?

The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released on December 17, found that UN Peacekeeping's Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous “illustrate[s] the UN's failure to respond to allegations of serious human rights violations in the meaningful way.”

 Ladsous has yet to take any questions about the report -- this as Inner City Press exclusively hears from sources of yet more sexual abuse cases in CAR, involving DR Congo AND Republic of Congo, and changes of abuses will in detention.

 On January 27, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about these new charges, transcript here.

On January 5, Ladsous mission in CAR issued a press release about yet more allegation of sexual abuse of minors by its peacekeepers, below.

 On January 18, Inner City Press managed to ask UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson about the report -- the UN Deputy Spokesperson appeared intent on not allowing the question, but Eliasson to his credit took it. Video here. , UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: The UK Ambassador mentioned sexual abuse.

DSG: Yes.

Inner City Press: He did. And so I wanted to know…

DSG: I did also.

Inner City Press: So, since that report came out about the Central African Republic, what has the Secretariat or the 38th floor done to ensure that in the future if a UN staffer becomes aware of child rape, that it goes to the right people?

DSG Eliasson: This is very serious. As you know, the Special Representative in Central African Republic resigned, was asked to resign. One of the others who were named by the Deschamps group, panel, was considered to have abused authority has left the United Nations, retired.  And we have a group set up right now, led by the Chef de Cabinet - Edmond Mulet - that is going to work very, very quickly on following up the recommendations of the panel. Mr. Mulet and his group will report to the Secretary-General by the end of this month.

We will look into both issues of individual responsibility, but also primarily on the systemic problems. This reminded me of my reaction to the Sri Lanka tragedy back in 2009. The panel came to the conclusion that it was systemic failure, so we drew the [conclusion] to that – we need to have a systemic response. That was the origin of Human Rights Up Front.  This time also the Deschamps report talks about, almost in the same language – systemic reactions. I also expect, or we also expect, Member States again to draw the conclusions from this.  In so many cases we have passed on to the Member States very damning reports, but very little sometimes has been done by Troop Contributing or Police Contributing countries. So we need to have nation states following up these [inaudible].

  We will have more, too, on DSG Eliasson's reference to the UN's failure in Sri Lanka. At the January 19 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq if Mulet's report at the end of January will be made public. Video here.  We'll see.

Earlier in the month,  Inner City Press asked the Permanent Representative of New Zealand and of Uruguay, President of the Security Council for January, about the report(s). Video here.

 Back in December, once the report came out from under embargo at the noon briefing Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will do about the findings against Ladsous, and that he escaped the “abuse of authority” moniker only because “the mandate of the Panel is to assess whether an abuse of authority has occurred in connection with the Allegations.”

 Since the abusers Ladsous let into MINUSCA were not the French troops who are accused of rape -- these troops are not in MINUSCA -- Ladsous' malfeasance is not “in connection” with the Allegations. But is it acceptable?

  Dujarric seems unfamiliar with the report; he implied that the third person found to have abused authority was the Ethics Officer, when it was a lower level official in CAR. Inner City Press asked what this all says about Ban Ki-moon's management, along with the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng and Bernardino Leon scandal, a question Dujarric did not allow Inner City Press to asked Ban himself on December 16. “Those are your words,” Dujarric replied. Yes, they are.

  When the Panel's three members held their press conference, Inner City Press asked about Ladsous' failure to vet and his linking of rapes to “R&R.” Video here.  Marie Deschamps said pointedly she wouldn't comment on Ladsous' remarks; Yasmin Sooka said these are crimes for punishment, not recreation.

  As the last question, Inner City Press asked what it had wanted to ask Ban, and tried to ask Dujarric: what does this say about Ban's management? Video of Q&A hereDidn't Ban's chief of staff Malcorra, criticized in the report, do it for Ban? Didn't the “senior official” who ostensibly let the rape information die on the vine in the 38th floor work in an atmosphere created by Ban's nine years? We will pursue this.

And this: if OIOS' Lapointe was wrong, isn't James Finness, who continues the OIOS campaign? While the UK has spoken, where is France, given Sangaris and Ladsous?

  As to Ladsous, the finding was made even though the three authors of the report do not mention, and apparently have not yet seen, the notes from Ladsous' October 1, 2015 meeting about the CAR mission withBurundi's Vice President, in which Ladsous said he is “pragmatic” on human rights, in Burundi and by extension elsewhere, nor Ladsous' September 11, 2015 on-camera comments linking the rapes to “R&R,”video here.

  But Ladsous still as of December 17 holds the senior UN position into which France, which has chosen the last four heads of UN Peacekeeping, put him in September 2011. How much longer?

By contrast, the former head of OIOS Carman Lapointe, of whom the panel finds an abuse of authority, is conveniently gone, as is Babacar Gaye, who worked for Ladsous at the CAR mission.

  Perhaps it was easier for the panel to make the formal finding against people who had already left the UN by the time the report was released.

  One wonders: if responses like Ladsous' legalistic (and largely false) November 2 letter were received so long ago  by the panel, why did they withhold the report all the way until December 17, the day AFTER Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's rare (and last of the year) press conference?

  High Commission Zeid, of whom it is said he was slammed in the report, in fact gets the same treatment -- critical, but no formal abuse of authority -- as Ladsous, who is airbrushed out and conditions access to information and answers about Peacekeeping on positive / false coverage.

 The same finding is made with regard to former Chief of Staff Susana Malcorra. Will the critical language hurt what chance she has, as a non Eastern European, to try to follow Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General?

 More generally, how does all this criticism reflect on the tenure of Ban Ki-moon? The report does not mention the concurrent scandalsregarding UN Secretariat documents purchased by now indicted Ng Lap Seng through former President of the General Assembly John Ashe, nor Ban Libya envoy taking instruction and a cushy job with the UAE while representing Ban on and in Libya.

  In December 2015, Ban allowed those who cover him, at least the UN Correspondents Association, to sell seats with him for $6,000. And it is these same who have airbrushed out Ladsous and others.

  The Panelists -- Marie Deschamps, Hassan Jallow and Yasmin Sooka -- leave unnamed a senior officer in Ban Ki-moon's office (finding that he misspoke when he said he had informed Deputy Jan Eliasson), without saying if the officer remains in the same position. We'll have more on this.

On Burundi, Inner City Press Asks Why UN So Quiet on Mass Graves, Simonovic's Spin



By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive publication, credited here

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on New Year's Eve issued a statement surreally praising the Burundi “talks” held in Entebbe, Uganda, multiple sources told Inner City Press these not really talks but rather a photo op. The January 6 session announced for Arusha did not happen.  Inner City Press requested to cover the UNSC's trip to Burundi, but was UNtransparently rejected.

Transparently, Inner City Press published the DR Congo Group of Experts Update Report including about 18 Burundian combatants, here(credited here) and see below.

 On February 10, AFP's English language reporter, not even at the UN Security Council stakeout for the February 10 meeting on Burundi, laterchanneled a "senior UN official" speaking "to reporters" that the UN is really pushing to go and investigate mass graves. Inner City Press put in a question -- on the record -- and, getting no good answer, asked the UN Spokesman on February 11, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on Burundi, I've seen that Mr. Šimonovic apparently yesterday said that the UN wants to be present when mass graves are examined.  And I wanted to know a little bit more about that.  Has that request been made?  Has there been a response by the Government?  And also why Mr. Šimonovic, ASG [Assistant Secretary-General], doesn't say it in a more public way?

Spokesman:  I think Mr. Šimonovic has been here quite a few times at the briefings.  We'll try to get him here some more.  As you know, I think the High Commissioner for Human Rights had talked about satellite photos and traces of potential mass graves.  A prosecutor was named in Burundi, tasked to investigate those reports.  As part of our support, we have offered… the High Commissioner for Human Rights has offered technical support, including to the Government of Burundi to help with that investigation, including forensic experts.  I've not heard that we have gotten a response back from the Government of Burundi.

Inner City Press:  Just one last thing on this, because he seems to be quoted:  "We would like to be present when this is done."  And, obviously, there are many people or at least some people in Burundi that would be somewhat suspect of a Government investigation if the Government is the one…

Spokesman:  I think that's in the vein of asking, offering to the Government to have UN experts there.

On February 8, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Duajarric about more deaths in Burundi and a speech attributed to Pierre Nkurunziza in which he likened himself to Jesus,and those who visited trying to forestall more killing to “Satan,” making offers.

  Dujarric said he would have no comment on the “very colorful statements made,” video here.

  (On Burundi, ICP has been exclusively informed that a FIFA post for Nkurunziza was floated to try to avoid this ill-fated third term.

  On February 8, Inner City Press also asked Dujarric for any Ban Ki-moon response to Sri Lanka's Gotabaya Rajapaksa calling the visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid “a big joke;” there was no comment, video here.)

At the February 5 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about Burundi, video heretranscript here.  

  Handpicked to go and memorialize the trip was Reuters, which barely reported what happened. There is a history, of Reuters UN bureau hereand here; on February 3, Reuters correspondent Michelle Nichols went so far as to cut off Inner City Press' questions to the UN, Vine here.

  On February 3 Reuters' UN bureau chief Lou Charbonneau, a censor,  channeled a UN (DRC) report -- note not only the former Reuters official turned Eritrea sanctions “experts” exposed by Inner City Presshere, but also that this same now discredited Reuters / UN individual was previously ON the DR Congo panel. Typically, Reuters did not actually put the report online.

  Inner City Press in the spirit of transparency is publishing the (update) report, dated January 15, 2016, signed by Coordinator Gaston Gramajo, and its two paragraphs about 18 Burundian combatants, here



Readers can draw their own conclusions, including about the mandate and motivation, and if these 18 is really the way it would go.

 At the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ban Ki-moon barely if at all pushed for peacekeepers for Burundi; his or France's head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous had largely undercut the idea with a memo than Inner City Press published in full.

(Inner City Press has reported the UN Peacebuilding Configuration will visit February 15-19, click here for that.)

Inner City Press on February 3 asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, transcript here.

On February 2, Inner City Press similarly asked the UN's Haq, transcript here.

  Meanwhile, on January 29, the UN Spokesman threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room then on February 1 made this threat, here. This was echoed on February 2

 On January 28, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about a meeting held but not televised on January 27, at which it was urged that mass grave sites in Burundi be preserved as evidence,video here, transcript here.

On January 29, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, transcript here.
 

  So it's all on Zeid, nothing from Ban Ki-moon, who appears to be playing this like he did Sri Lanka...

 On January 27, Inner City Press put questions to the UN and US Ambassador Power about the UN's continued use of Burundian troops as “peacekeepers,” for which the UN's Herve Ladsous gave the country a waiver to continue to get paid for under-equipped troops in the Central African Republic, where they have been accused of rape.

  The UN Spokesperson answered

Inner City Press: On Burundi, given that the government has not responded to, or has blocked, the human rights experts from Geneva, and given the other things said on this podium, what sense does it make for UN peacekeeping to continue to use, and give waivers to Burundian peacekeepers in CAR? Is there a connection between a country’s compliance with the UN’s demands, requests, and in fact paying money, which some say doesn’t even go to the troops, for service in peacekeeping missions?

UN Spokesman Dujarric: Peacekeeping troops, units that serve in peacekeeping missions, undergo various vetting processes that involve the UN and the host country. ?? in cases we have not accepted certain individuals, we’ve also returned battalions in other cases. This will be continued to be looked at on a rolling basis.

Inner City press: Will you confirm that they have a waiver to serve in CAR until April, by Mr. Ladsous, granted on October 1?

UN Spokesman: No.

 At the UN Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press waited -- including through two North Korea questions, and softballs -- then asked if this UN use of Burundian troops makes sense. There has yet to be an answer, although there are indications one might be forthcoming. (More than 24 hours later, no).  Here for now is about the US training Burundian troops. Watch this site.

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokespeople about the trip on January 20, 21 and 22 - including asking why the UN was not providing a video or at least audio stream of the January 22 press encounters, says it has a  "UN Information Center" in Bujumbura, which produced a smiling photo of the French deputy ambassador Alexis Lamek on the tarmac. The UN said it couldn't.

  Local media in Burundi put online a video in which Lamek spoke at length; afterward a pro-government Burundian media quoted Lamek that "we" take seriously the question of interference by Rwanda to destabilize Burundi and will be working on it.

  But the four scribes handpicked to accompany the Security Council trip, inlcuding Agence France Presse, it seems, for some reasons didn't cover it. Why? We'll have more on this. Instead, AFP, Reuters andVoice of America (which saw "Liberians" then cited auto-correct) filed near-identical stories with no quotes from opposition figures or attacked journalists. None of the three even tweeted on January 23, other than Reuters as a robot: talk about Old Media.

  How could "Agence France Presse," handpicked to publicize the UNSC trip co-led by France, not even cover the controversy?

  We note that the French Mission to the UN said that Lamek was being misrepresented (the same French Mission has tried to shield Lamek from critical Press questions, which here on Vine Lamek has refused to answer even when entirely audible). Later an AFP quote emerged of Lamek saying that any AU force, even the 100 human rights observers, should significantly focus on the Rwandan border.

  On the evening of January 23 the UN has put up select clips including a mere 16 seconds of French deputy ambassador Lamek, much less than the local Burundian media present at the same press encountered had.  If the UN filmed the press encounters, why did it so selectively edit them?

  More specifically, now, who decided on the edits?

Inner City Press, which is the media which on January 22 asked for the live-stream, has asked the UN, publicly on Twitter, here, and in more detail by e-mail to three top UN spokespeople:

"having just seen that your Office put online edited video from Burundi, must ask: why did UN edit the footage it has, with no Burundi government speaker, and only 16 seconds of France, penholder in the UNSC on Burundi? Please provide the full footage, in response to this request and, separately, online. Would also still like answers to questions below" on Burundi.

 And still no answers at all, the next day. Watch this site.

  The UN spokespeople refused to say, but beyond the pro-government "religious leaders" that they cited, the Council also met with at least some of the concerned members of civil society, and some journalists who inevitably raised the issue of attacks and censorship. This was not mentioned by the UN.

  We're told that Ambassador Albert Shingiro, who blocks the Press on Twitter, told the scribes that US Power said she would send “a strong message to the government of Rwanda." Again, Shingiro blocks the Press on Twitter: some diplomat.

  One of the four handpicked pass-throughs opined that "the fact that Council members presented Nkurunziza with a largely unified message on the different issues was seen as a positive sign that they had come closer to a common position." So they traveled to Burundi to work on their own issues? We'll have more on this - and on the Council's junket-ending meetings in Addis, if not on Oromo protests, than this we've asked about. Watch this site.

   On January 22, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq for the UN's response to Pierre Nkurunziza denying the existence of his party's youth militia, and why there was no video or even audio stream of the Security Council's - and Nkurunziza's -- press statements. Video here.

  Haq replied that "the facilities are difficult," that the UN Spokesperson's Office had reached out to the traveling party for information but hadn't gotten any. The Free UN Coalition for Accesscalls this a failure.

 On January 21 Inner City Press in New York learned both of Pierre Nkurunziza plans to parade "community work" for the Security Council members on January 22 and has been provided with a letter promoting same, here.

  On January 22, even after the Council's meeting with Nkurunziza was over, when Inner City Press asked the UN for a read-out there was none, nor any good explanation of why the UN with its country team could not arrange at least an audio stream of the Council's (and Nkurunziza's) press statements.

 Tellingly, IWACU reports that bike taxi and motorcycle taxi drivers offered money to protest in favor of Nkurunziza weren't, after the fact, paid: here.
    At the January 21 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the "community works" and meeting(s). Video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you this just because I'm trying to cover it, and I know that you'd said yesterday that the Special Adviser, Jamal Benomar, is in Burundi in part of the trip.  So what I wanted to ask you is, I've seen documents that show that the… the… the… tomorrow, the meeting with the President, [Pierre] Nkurunziza, will involve a demonstration of “community work”, i.e., people have been asked to go and I don't know if it's to show how happy they are — Gitega and Karuzi.  Does the Special Adviser… not the Security Council, does the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General believe that this type of… of… of show is the right one and will they be meeting with UPRONA and other opposition groups or prisoners currently in jail?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, we'll be able to provide details of the meetings once they've taken place.  As you know, the expectation is for the members of the Council to meet with President Nkurunziza.  That hasn't happened so far, but once that's happened, we'll see what the circumstances are and what the views of Mr. Benomar are.



 This is reminiscent of the type of dog-and-pony show Sri Lanka's then President Mahinda Rajapaksa put on for visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and that Inner City Press accompanied and covered(apparently not to the UN's and its allies' liking - it has been Banned from trips since.) But will the UNSC, unlike Ban, have the fortitude or leverage to reject a dog and pony show? Watch this site.

On January 19 at the UN, Inner City Press asked Uruguay's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Jose Luis Cancela, chairing the Security Council debate on Protection of Civilians, about Burundi and the Council's trip. Video here.

  On January 21, Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Accessasked UK Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft about his stop-over on Addis Ababa, "will you as UK meet with AU before heading to Burundi? About AU's proposed deployment?"

   Rycroft replied, "Yes! Looking forward to meeting @AU_Chergui today. Will also return to Addis with whole UNSC after Burundi."

  In Addis, Chergui had filed the Concept of Operation for the MAPROBU peacekeeping mission. We'll have more on this.

  Burundian civil society has written to Ban seeking the repatriation of the country's peacekeepers. Inner City Press has put the letter from Vital Nshimirimana to Ban online here, and will be asking the UN about it. Watch this site.

  On December 30 Nkurunziza threatened to have his forces attack peacekeepers proposed for the country.


Obtained by Inner City Press

Ladsous' lack of vetting was criticized in the recently released report into the cover up of peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic. Earlier, Inner City Press exclusive reported on Ladsous in his October 1, 2015 meeting with Burundi's vice president saying that he is "pragmatic" on human rights.

 On December 16 Inner City Press was banned from questions to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but learned from the mission MINUSCA that Baratuza was already in Entebbe. Inner City Press asked several Security Council members, then Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on December17.

Dujarric told Inner City Press Baratuza's deployment is suspended and he is being repatriated: "based on the information we've received regarding the Lieutenant Colonel, his deployment has been suspended, and he will be repatriated back to Burundi." Video here. Dujarric told Inner City Press this shows the UN system working - on a day when a report on rapes was issued showing UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous not sufficiently vetting for human rights. We'll have more on this.



 Amid the escalating killings in Burundi, last weekend's summary executions in neighborhoods opposed to Pierre Nkurunziza's third term stand out. But Burundi Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza was quoted on December 12 blaming all of the deaths on attempts to steal weapons to free prisoners.

   Inner City Press had heard that Mr. Baratuza was already in the process of being deployed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) even when he was giving these quotes, issuing statements and speaking to state-owned radio, and so asked MINUSCA's acting spokesperson, “Is Gaspard Baratuza of Burundi's army getting a MINUSCA job?”

  On December 16, hours before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a rare press conference, MINUSCA's acting spokesperson sent this to Inner City Press:

"To: Matthew.Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
From: Vladimir MONTEIRO [at] UN.org
Date: Wed, Dec 16, 2015
Subject: ICP question: Gaspard Baratuza of Burundi's army getting a MINUSCA-related post?
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

"No decision related to Lt Col Baratuza's deployment can be taken before we finish looking into the matter. We can confirm that Lt Col Baratuza is in Entebbe but he has not yet deployed to MINUSCA.  Regards. VNM"

There are some questions about Baratuza, a Colonel in Burundi's Army, being listed by the UN as “Lt. Col.”

  Despite multiple follow-up questions by Inner City Press, Mr. Monteiro - previously a spokesperson for the UN electoral mission in Burundi - replied that “This is what we can say about this issue.”

   But the UN should have to say more. Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN how its Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous vets those who deploy to UN missions; Inner City Pressexclusively reported on an October 1, 2015 meeting in which Ladsous told Burundi's Vice President Joseph Butare that he is “pragmatic” on human rights.



 Ban Ki-moon and his spokesman declined to take Inner City Press' questions on December 16, as they did on December 14. Vine here.  Watch this site.

On South Sudan, Inner City Press Asks UN of Attacks in Mundri, Is Sent to A Non-UN Website



By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- In the UN's continued withholding of news and answers about South Sudan, the reports of the UN's own knowledge of abuses are now being withheld from its own impacted national staff.  So Inner City Press has published below from inside UNMISS.

On February 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: On South Sudan,  yesterday I'd asked you about Maridi, and today I want to ask you about Mundri.  Seems like, basically, there are offences in at least these two places, maybe more, by the SPLA against the SPLA-IO.  And I'm just wondering, were you able to get any… did you hear anything back?

Spokesman:  Again, you should also take a look at the website from the Joint Verification Mechanism.  They are responsible for monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire.  So, their updates, I understand, are going up daily.  As soon as we get updates from the field, we share them with you.

 But this website is rarely updated. What IS the UN's job?

 On February 10, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about Maridi, still no answer. Nor, from a week ago, about chemical weapons:

  UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous hits new lows daily. On February 3 at a briefing in Juba largely triggered by leaks, UNMISS was asked about the use of chemical weapons in Mundri.

From the transcript:

"Answer: Please refer to the JMEC Monitoring and Verification Teams – I cannot comment."

 But Inner City Press is told by South Sudan sources that "fighting started early am the other morning around Katigiri and proceeded WNW towards Mundri.  Chemical agents were clearly within SPLA ammunition (mortar rounds, recoil-less rifles), the medics know the issue will be squashed."

  So Inner City Press in New York asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about the deference in Juba to JMEC. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: in South Sudan, there are now people saying that chemical weapons were used in a place called Mundri.  And I wanted to know, I know that UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) has started holding briefings there.  There's a question by a, quote, unidentified journalist about the chemical weapons, and the answer was, “Simply refer to the JMAC (Joint Mission Analysis Centre) monitoring and verification teams.”  And I wanted to know, how is it that the UN has a near-billion-dollar peacekeeping mission there but can't speak about an issue as important as chemical weapons?  And what is the state of the UN's knowledge on the reported use of chemical weapons by the Government side in Mundri?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, I mean, the basic point is that, at this stage, we don't have a confirmation of the use of chemical weapons.  If we do, we would report that.  It's a matter of serious concern.  We have a peacekeeping mission on the ground.  If it can confirm these reports, it will.

Inner City Press:  So the answer there given only to refer to JMAC actually meant the UN is trying to confirm it, and if it can, it will.

Deputy Spokesman:  If we have any solid information to confirm this, of course, we would follow up on that. 

   So what the UN said in Juba is belatedly cleaned up by UNHQ. But they also refuse to answer basic questions in NY, here.

  Previously, after Inner City Press published, the UN did a partial read-out at its noon briefing. But it left questions unanswered. Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  the Yambio readout.  I have one just sort of factual question.  In that… can you confirm that the NGO compound that people have fled to is the A-D-R-A, or ADRA, compound?  And is it that the UN base in Yambio isn't large enough or set up to be the type of protection for civilians’ facility that's done elsewhere in the country?

Deputy Spokesman:  I wouldn't speculate on why civilians choose to go to one place or another.  The… remember, they are the ones who are estimated to have sought protection at the NGO compound.  I don't have the identification of that particular compound there.

Inner City Press: And it may… and this maybe… may or may not… I don't know if it's related, but there's a report in Radio Tamazuj that, in the UN base in Melut County in Upper Nile State, people don't have food.  Maybe your… your… that… that… since the beginning of the year, none has been delivered, and so there seems to be a… I know it's difficult to take care of this number of people, but is there some problem with… with actually… is there some snafu or breakdown in the delivery of needed supplies to these camps?

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not aware of any particular problems at any individual compound that the UN Mission in South Sudan has.  We try to provide food and assistance for all of those who are seeking shelter in the UN compounds, and I'm not aware of whether any population is underserved at that point.

  Well, here it is. And here's the UN narrative Inner City Press published:

"at around 1040 am heavy fighting broke out in Yambio Town, details are unclear at this moment; according to earlier reports the SPLA Commandos at around 0530 am launched an operation against the Arrow Boys arm under the SSLM located in the Birisi area of Yambio township, the group in turn entered Yambio town and launched attack against the SPLA causing citizens to flee in panic.  Once the heavy shooting started a number of civilians around (40) forced their way into the UNMISS camp as vehicles were being processed at the main gate. They have since moved to the ADRA compound.

The Rwanbatt have now taken control of the main entrance and the citizens whom entered the compound have now moved to the adjoining ADRA compound. Alert status “WHITE” has been declared for Yambio town until further notice.

Point of note; the Arrow Boys under the SSLM are currently in peace negotiations with the government."

 Then, this UNMISS update:

"After shooting occurred in the early hours of the morning around 0530 hours; at 0830 hours the SPLA Commandos lunched operations against the Arrow Boys located in the areas of Birisi, Gangura, Yambio stadium, and the general areas of the Power Station and surrounding communities north east of UNMISS compound. A number of locals have taken refuge in the ADRA compound."

 For all the UN bragging it's ADRA doing the sheltering. From further inside UNMISS, from Inner City Press' sources:

"The Commandos attacked the arrow boys with whom they signed the peace agreement early this morning, and they engaged in battle at Uze river, the commandos have proceeded to Birisi, now the arrow boys have broken the bridge keeping the commando stranded in Birisi.  There was some random shooting in town and heading towards Uze again. One prominent civil servant has been shot dead and his driver.  All the youth and communities in Yambio have raised arms in any form to fight.

"The clashes began around 5 o’clock Thursday morning, according to a source. Gunfire has continued on and off until now, sources said. Casualties were reported though there are no concrete figures yet.

"Yambio market is reportedly empty with civilians seeking shelter in their homes or near the United Nations base in the town, a source said. That source said some people are afraid to reach the UN base because shooting has been heard in the area of the base.  The fighting took place mainly on the southern side of the town near the prison, according to sources. That area is near a frontline between the government-controlled Yambio town and Gangura Payam which is held by the South Sudan National Liberation Movement.

"The SSNLM is a militia led by ex-SPLA commanders from Western Equatoria. The SSNLM signed a preliminary peace agreement with the government in November, but the deal has yet to be finalized. Time for war."

So the UN knows this - but what do they say? Inner City Press obtained and on January 21 published this:

"On 19 January 2016 at about 21:22hrs in Juba, an UNMISS integrated patrol team was conducting operations when they were stopped by an SPLA vehicle containing eleven (11) armed soldiers.  The SPLA soldiers cordoned the convoy at gunpoint denying them permission to continue the patrol. After ten minutes of negotiation another three (3) SPLA vehicles arrived at the scene with about 30 armed soldiers. After 30 minutes the SPLA agreed to allow the UN patrol to return to UN House compound in convoy escorted by six (6) SPLA vehicles with about sixty (60) armed SPLA soldiers. During the negotiation SPLA soldiers reportedly advised that UNMISS should stop conducting night patrols without SPLA clearance otherwise there will be a consequences."

 So one side in South Sudan's civil war - in this case, Paul Malong's - orders the UN to stop patrolling at night, so it can do what it will. And the UN says nothing -- even when asked.

 At the January 20 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: On South Sudan, I wanted to ask you to confirm that UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) — yesterday in Juba an UNMISS patrol was stopped by several dozen SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) military people and I've seen a UN document that says that the SPLA told UNMISS to stop conducting night patrols without SPLA clearance; otherwise, there will be consequences.  Given the debate on the protection of civilians, will you confirm that this took place and what is the UN's response to the SPLA's request?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, I don't have any confirmation of that.  If we have any details from UNMISS down the line we will share that but, no, I don't.

  Inner City Press said, quite audibly, It's an UNMISS documents, but the UN did not transcribe it.

Back on January 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the withheld situation reports, video heretranscript here.

  Even if that were true, what about civilians?

   Inner City Press published an internal UN Situation Report.

Back on December 9, the day after the UN belatedly confirmed ceasefire violations in South Sudan, only after Inner City Press published proof of the UN's knowledge and asked about it, then the UN Peacekeeping mission in the country shifted to either intentionally mis-reporting government actions in Yambio, or showing ineptitude in its response.

   Again receiving leaked UNMISS Situation Reports, Inner City Press found this paragraph:

"On 7 December 2015 around 20:00 hrs, heavy exchange of gunshots occurred in the area of Hai Kuba, Ikpiro in Yambio in Western Equatoria State. The shooting lasted approximately twenty to thirty minutes. Reportedly, the shooting started when the local authorities attempted to arrest three (3) local youths suspects."

But Inner City Press' sources said the arrests were political, of former Yambio Commissioner Angelo Bakote and 3 young men. So on December 9 Inner City Press asked, of protection, transcript here. Back on December 8 Inner City Press asked, video heretranscript here. 

For weeks amid fighting in South Sudan, Inner City Press has asked the UN why it refuses to report even what it knows. Even as Inner City Press has obtained, asked about and published emails showing the UN's knowledge of fighting, the UN spokesperson has repeated, Ask UNMISS.

   Inner City Press asked why UN Peacekeeping, led by Herve Ladsous, does not report on fighting of which it is aware, and how “no UN interest is involved” is consistent with the UN's protection of civilians mandate or claims.

   Dujarric wouldn't even attempt an answer to this policy question (which Ladsous refuses, like other Press questions, to answer). Dujarric repeated, as if it were an answer, that he has not seen the email.

  So Inner City Press published it, here:

"From: Enoch Penney Laryea @un.org

Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2015 9:15 AM

To: SANTUR Abdulahi; Simon Agnew [WFP]; Christoffel Du Toit; Safari Djumapili [OCHA]; Ruiz, Domingo (FAOSS); Carlyne Romulus [at UNMAS] Sorin GIFEI [WFP], Shane Yates [UNCHR]; Abdikadir Tulicha; Sylvain Denairies; UNMISS-FHQ-J2;  John McCue (IOM); Gatluak Gatluak [and others at UNICEF], IMF

Subject: FW: Fighting in Busere - Western Bahr El Ghazal State

"Info received indicate that on 01 Dec 2015 at about 05:00 hours (LT) fighting erupted between SPLA and SPLA/IO at FIRKA and BUSERE (20 km South of Wau town). The fighting subsided around 10:00 hours. Military pickups and ambulances were observed transporting casualties along the airport road at high speed towards the military barracks. SPLA soldiers in the town were seen to be on high alert and on stand by mode.

"Comments: Reportedly the SPLA/IO group attacked SPLA at the affected area. When SPLA soldiers were sent to reinforce their colleagues they were also ambushed by the rebels leading to further casualties on the part of SPLA.

"Fighting is still ongoing as of 02 Dec 2015.

"No UN interest is involved at this time."

Again, why doesn't Ladsous' DPKO report this, and how is this “no UN interest is involved at this time” consistent with the UN's protection of civilians mandate or claims? We'll have more on this.

Inner City Press obtained the UN Security Situation Report for November 29, and finds in this internal report, exclusively published here:

"On 28 November 2015 at around 22:45 hrs, in Yambio town near Tourist Hotel along the main road, a UN Agency national staff member was reportedly involved in a traffic accident. UN Security responded to the scene of the incident and found another civilian vehicle turned over with the driver apparently dead inside the vehicle whilst the UN agency staff member sustained visible injuries in his head. The local police on the spot attempted to arrest the UN staff member involved in the accident, however,
after negotiation UN Security transported him to UN clinic for the medical treatment."

 Can you say, impunity?

From September 29, 2015: An internal UN document leaked to Inner City Press, which is exclusively publishing it today, shows the high degree of dysfunction in the country, and in the UN.


  Here are some quotes, the full document we have put online here:

Within South Sudan the inextricable link with the Government’s political party SPLM with the SPLA military has exacerbated the crisis and this bond is also a potential stumbling block to finding a peaceful solution in the future. Currently the Government cannot adequately protect its population or institutions and therefore by extension is also unable to provide adequate protection to UN personnel or assets. The fragmentation of the military from the beginning of the crisis, the misuse of national security agencies and the economic status resulting from the collapse of state structure and drop in income, has led to further political instability.

This assessment defines that the UN is not a primary target for direct violence. However, this situation could change if the economic situation declines further, the military armed conflict continues and tensions rise within PoC sites.

Currently there is no mainstreaming of Security within the planning of UN activities/ programmes. Therefore, the policy that defines that security needs to be involved at all levels of management to ensure security is considered/ mainstreamed into all activities or programmes is not applied, specifically in UNMISS.

The high prevalence of alcohol and illicit drug use within the PoC sites has exacerbated violence and criminal behaviour directly impacting upon UN and AFP personnel working or living within or adjacent to the PoC sites. The smuggling of weapons into the PoCs poses a potential Direct Threat to UNMISS and AFP staff.

 Continued accusations by government actors or affiliates that the PoC sites are sanctuary for supporters of the SPLA in Opposition also make the PoC sites a target; this point was actively demonstrated in the attack in the Bor in April 2014 resulting in the death of 55 IDPs within the UNMISS site.

Prior to December 2013, the UN was well regarded by the South Sudanese for its role in the drive towards independence from Sudan, for its humanitarian interventions and for efforts to protect civilians. But the ongoing crisis in South Sudan has also negatively impacted on sentiments and threats directed to UN personnel in the course of their work, for example IDPs insisting that national staff not from their preferred ethnic group are removed from programme activities in POC sites and some Ugandan UNPOL having to wear civilia clothes and be removed from POC duty due to active UPDF military support for the
Government of South Sudan.

In March 2014, a labelling error was discovered whilst transporting containers loaded with duty equipment for the UN Ghanaian peacekeepers in Unity State which brought strained relations to even a lower point. The error was exploited to galvanise hostility towards the UN in favour of the government by falsely presenting the UN as supplying weaponry to the opposition. It took elaborate interventions, investigations
and communications to clear the false impression that this created.

[ICP note: the same type of "labeling" or "clerical" error occure this months with weapons headed to MONUSCO. This is what UN Peacekeeping has become under Herve Ladous, who linked peacekeepers' rapes to "R&R, here.]

On 26 August 2014 under suspicious circumstances a UN contracted helicopter crashed near Bentiu in Unity State, killing three (3) aircrew and injuring one (1) other, underlining the threats involved in working within South Sudan. Investigations into the cause of the crash were inconclusive.

There have been increasing reports of criminal acts occurring within the Protection Of Civilian (POC) sites; also there have been a number of serious assaults against the UN and other humanitarian workers, sometimes involving weapons which
has resulted a few times of hospitalisation of personnel. These incidents have, and continue to affect not only the civilians seeking refuge at UN sites, but also the ‘safety and security’ of individual UNMISS and Agencies Funds and Programmes (AFP)
personnel.

"In February 2015 there was an alleged sexual assault of a Canadian INGO by a subcontractor for a UN Agency in UNMISS Bentiu team site."

[ICP note: the UN and UNICEF have not addressed this; the head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, has linked rapes to R&R.]

As the fighting also continues at a pace within Sudan on two fronts – Darfur and Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan in particular) the impact for the whole border region cannot be ignored. Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are also carrying out
aerial bombing campaigns in the Nuba Mountains but also extending into South Sudan in November 2014 to hit alleged JEM targets in Raja, Western Bahr el Ghazal which killed 24 people including women and children.

South Sudan lacks an adequate air traffic control system, countrywide. The government took control of the country’s airspace from Sudan in 2011, but to date has not issued any “Notice to Airmen” (NOTAMs.). There are areas, however, that the government has declared a “no fly zone” (i.e. over the Presidential Palace in Juba), suggesting that the government reserve the right to fire upon an aircraft that violates this airspace.

The SPLA-io has reportedly mined the roads to the north of
Bentiu resulting in several incidents of vehicles being destroyed and civilian casualties. This is of particular concern to the UN as these routes are a vital corridor in delivering humanitarian aid.

The existing EU sanctions delivered in July 2014 had little impact on the deescalating of the crisis."

We'll have more on this.