Thursday, May 19, 2016

As In Mali 5 More Peacekeepers Killed, Ban Evicted, Praised Posco, Ladsous Decay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 18 -- On the eve of the UN's day for peacekeepers, on which DPKO chief Herve Ladsous will not speak to the Press, five more Chadian peacekeeper were killed in Mali. Ban Ki-moon phoned in this:

"The Secretary-General condemns the deadly complex attack that took place today, and which killed five peacekeepers and injured three others from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). According to preliminary information, a MINUSMA convoy hit an improvised explosive device and then came under fire by an unknown group of armed assailants approximately 15 km north of Aguelhok, Kidal region. Five Chadian peacekeepers were killed and three others injured during the attack.

"Since the beginning of the year, a dozen attacks against the United Nations has been registered in Kidal region, resulting in the death of at least 12 United Nations personnel, including today’s victims. The Secretary-General presents his sincere condolences to the families of the five peacekeepers who have died in the cause of peace and to the Government and people of Chad, and wishes a prompt recovery to those injured. He calls for swift action to bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice and recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers constitute war crimes under international law.

"The Secretary-General reiterates that the United Nations will continue to support the stabilization of Mali and the implementation of the peace agreement and expresses his full support to the Malian authorities in their efforts to address violence and insecurity in the country."

This was crafted on a night when Ban Ki-moon appeared at the Korea Society praising a Korean steel company, while many view him as preparing to run for the Presidency in South Korea. In New York, he has evicted the critical Press. See New York Times to May 14, here, to which Ban has not responded.

Back on March 13 in another "friendly fire" incident among UN peacekeepers in Mali, two were dead and another injured. The UN Mission MINUSMA issued a statement, only in French; translated it, below.

"Bamako, le 13 mars 2016 - Hier vers 19h, un tragique incident s’est déroulé dans le camp de la MINUSMA à Tessalit, région de Kidal, lorsqu’un Casque bleu à tiré sur trois de ses collègues.
Deux morts sont à déplorer, un autre a été légèrement blessé.
Le suspect a été arrêté, la sécurité dans le camp a été renforcée, une enquête permettra de déterminer les causes et circonstances exactes de l’incident."'s translation:

“Yesterday near 7 pm, a tragic incident unrolled in the MINUSMA camp in Tesalit, in the Kidal region, when a Peacekeeper fired on three of his colleagues. Two deaths are to be deplored, another was lightly injured. The suspect has been detained, the security of the camp has been reinforced, an investigation will let us determine the exact causes and circumstances of the incident.”

  This is the second friendly fire incident in Mali recently; Herve Ladsous' peacekeeping, beyond rapes, is in rapid decay, full of double standards.

Back on Februayr 26 when two UN peacekeepers from Chad were killed in Kidal in northern Mali, the UN in New York made no mention of it. This stands in contrast to announcements in other cases of peacekeepers' death. But this one was "friendly" fire. So, silent.

  Inner City Press, after being Banned from the UN for the first three days of the week (BI herepetition here) for having tried to cover in the same UN Press Briefing Room an event it believed relevant to the current UN corruption scandals -- the UN Correspondents Association took money from Ng Lap Seng and gave him a photo op with Ban Ki-moon -- was back in with reduced access on February 26 and asked, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask about this incident in Mali where one Chadian peacekeeper killed two other peacekeepers.  It says that it's based on tensions in their contingent.  Is it based on the conditions there?  Why didn't you announce it from the podium if two peacekeepers are dead?

Spokesman Dujarric: On the incident, yes, there was a press release issued this morning by the Mission in Kidal.  There was a shooting incident in the camp yesterday within the Chadian contingent.  One soldier opened fire, killed one of his colleagues.  Another one was wounded and later succumbed from his injuries.  As for the… the perpetrator was detained and is in custody, and there's an investigation going on.

Inner City Press:  I guess I'm asking because there… there… there are even some Security Council or recent Security Council members have said that the conditions for particularly the African contingents in Northern Mali are quite negative.  But I also… I repeat the question.  Is… is it the norm to… to announce here… not by a press release from Bamako, but here, when peacekeepers are killed, and if so… why didn't that happen in this case?

Spokesman:  Well, I'm confirming it now, and as I said, the announcement was made very publicly from the Mission in Kidal… in the Mission in Mali.  The conditions for peacekeepers in Mali, especially in the north, are extremely challenging.

Question:  Are the conditions… [cross talk]

Spokesman:  I'll come back to you.  Sherwin?

  And after this dodge, a second round:

Inner City Press: what I wanted to know is whether the conditions of the Dutch contingent, which is a part of MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), are similar or different than those of the Chadian contingent, as I previously asked you about their equipment, their communications equipment, that seem to also be different.  So some people look at it and they say it should be one peacekeeping.  How do you explain the different… or do you acknowledge or disagree that…  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  I don't know where the Dutch are stationed.  I don't know if they're stationed in Kidal.  The issue of equipment, especially sometimes with contingents, they don't come with enough equipment, creates challenges for DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations).  I know the Chadians have been on the front lines of the UN's work in Mali, have borne the brunt of some of the violence that we've seen.  And I know we and DPKO, everyone, is extremely grateful for what they do.  And I'm sure the Mission does whatever they can to ensure that their conditions are acceptable.

  Yeah, sure.
Back on January 11 when the UN Security Council heard about Mali it was not from the new UN Envoy to the country, but rather first from UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, who has overseen two-tier peacekeeping in the country and bears responsibility for rapes in Central African Republic.
In Mali, where many UN peacekeepers nearly all of them from Africa have been killed, the Dutch battalion has communications equipment that only contingents from NATO member countries can use, Inner City Press has been exclusively informed.

  While the reasoning may be to prevent copying of the technology by others, the result leaves non-NATO troops at increased risk. Belatedly, there is an attempt to procure alternative, non-NATO limited technology.

 But this two-tier system, which some even call in context racist, has been allowed by UN Peacekeeping under its boss Herve Ladsous.
  Two week ago, Inner City Press asked Ladsous, who usually refuses to answer all Press questions, about the two-tier nature of UN peacekeeping.

On December 2 after a screening of a film about UN Peacekeeping, “Last Station Before Hell,” which portrayed missions in Lebanon, DR Congo and Central African Republic, Inner City Press asked Ladsous why French and other European troops like the Dutch serve alongside but not with UN peacekeepers, in Mali (including Germans and Slovakians now replacing French), Cote d'Ivoire and CAR. The second was for an update on the rape allegations against French and UN peacekeepers in CAR. Video here and embedded below.

  Ladsous, who has repeatedly outright refused to answer Inner City Press questions in the UN, did respond to the first question, denying there is a two-tier system and describing what some view as a vestige of colonialism: he listed the UK having a special interest in Sierra Leon, like France has in Mali, and a desire to serve under its own command.

Ladsous pointedly did NOT answer the request for any update on the sexual abuse allegations against Sangaris and MINUSCA, something pointed out afterward by a number of those in attendance at the International Peace Institute.

  One also noted this: while Ladsous trumpeted a number of female SRSGs in UN Peacekeeping, only that day one of them, Ellen Loj, was confined to speaking behind closed doors after Ladsous' public speech, and then followed his pattern of no comments to the media afterward, a come-down from her predecessor Hilde Johnson and even her own previous appearances. (Johnson, sources say, pursued the Somalia SRSG post that was given to Michael Keating.)

  One of Ladsous two fellow panelists at IPI, Lise Morjé Howard, an Associate Professor of Government, Georgetown University, answered Inner City Press that the French troops are not really peacekeepers but more akin to counter-insurgency forces.

Ladsous called France “the country I know best.” He is listed in UN Dispute Tribunal documents as having tried to fire, then to retaliate against, the whistleblower who revealed the allegations of child rape by French soldiers in CAR.

There's talk, even about the P5, of Ladsous being a liability who shouldn't remain even during Ban Ki-moon's remaining time. His non-answer on sexual abuse on December 2 is particularly noteworthy given his Septembr 11 on-camera linking of the CAR rapes to “R&R,” video here. We'll continue on this.