By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up on Exclusives
UNITED NATIONS, September 18 -- The UN judged the Terrain Apartments in Juba, South Sudan to be safe and well-protected in October 2015, documents obtained and exclusively published by Inner City Press show.
In July 2016 the UN did nothing while those living there were rapes and, in the case of journalist John Gatluak, killed.
Now what? Well, on September 16 Ban Ki-moon's UN gave awards to peacekeepers in South Sudan from Ban's native South Korea, where he coyly seeks to run for president. From the UN's press release:
“Peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea Horizontal Military Engineering Company or ROK-HMEC which are deployed to Bor in Jonglei Region received medals for outstanding contributions to the UNMISS and South Sudan.
The awards ceremony was presided by the mission’s Director of Mission Support (DMS), Ms. Stephani Scheer, as well as the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Parke Jong Dae.
“South Korea has made a very valuable contribution to peacekeeping activities for several decades and their support to the UNMISS is the country’s biggest contribution to the peacekeeping operations throughout the world,” said Ms. Scheer during her remarks.
The Ambassador said the Government of the Republic of Korea will continue it’s [sic] to support to UN peacekeeping Missions around the world, and in particular press on with their support for the people of South Sudan in order for the country to achieve peace.
The DMS then thanked the engineering company (ROK-HMEC) for the outstanding support to the UNMISS mandate in South Sudan.
The DMS also toured the mission’s level two hospital which is operated by Sri Lankan peacekeepers.”
All of this is shameful, a new low even for Ban's UN.
On September 17, as Inner City Press covered the UN Security Council meeting on Syria, under Ban's eviction order it was first locked out of the UNSC stakeout, then told to leave the UN by a UN Security officer. This is Ban's UN.
On July 11, 13 and 14, Inner City Press asked the UN about its lack of response to rapes and killing in the Terrain Apartments in Juba, South Sudan, having been contacted by sources there shocked at the lack of response by the UNMISS mission and others. Video here, including the UN on August 15 claiming after a month to STILL be investigating its negligence.
On August 16, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement that he “has decided to launch an independent special investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding these incidents and to evaluate the Mission’s overall response.”
On August 23, Ban named Patrick Cammaert to head it. Inner City Press asked, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: About South Sudan, when you mentioned that Mr. Cammaert had previously done the Malakal one, I wanted to know, has that resulted in any accountability? I went back. He did the study of Gaza in 2015. He was sent to Sri Lanka in 2009. I want to know, overall, is the goal of this exercise, particularly given the Terrain events but also rapes outside the gate, to actually hold someone accountable or to write a Malakal-style study?
Spokesman: You know, I think the Malakal report was fairly… was fairly clear. I think it’s important that we be able to assess, not only the facts on the ground, but the role of the mission, how the mission responded, how the various contingents responded. And from that, obviously, if there are further steps to be taken, they will be taken.
ICP Question: Right, but I guess I’m asking as an example, in the Malakal case, have any steps yet been taken?
Spokesman: Well, I think, you know, obviously, we have seen how various contingents responded, and we hope that also what we’ve learned from Malakal will be able to better prepare us for similar situations that may happen in the future.
ICP Question: Relatedly…
Spokesman: Okay. I’ll come back to you.
What's “come back” is Cammaert. With all due respect, Ban for his “independent” investigations picks the same people again and again, or people who need or want a UN post - it creates an incentive to deliver a report that doesn't lead to accountability, in order to get the (next) job: a cover-up cadre.
On the morning of August 17 Inner City Press reported that the UN Department of Safety and Security's Chris Du Toit is said by staff to be the one who adjudged the Terrain Apartments to be “safe,” and had gone “on leave,” like Ban Ki-moon.
On the morning of August 22 Inner City Press exclusively published: The UN Department of Safety and Security's MORSS - Residential Security Survey Report of October 29, 2015 says that “the residence is recommended to UN personnel,” that “UN PK [Peacekeepers]” are “present in the area... guarding the UN House,” and that the gates are in good condition. At noon on August 22, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Beyond the Vine here, UN Transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the Terrain Apartments in South Sudan. Back on 14 July, you'd said that the UN was already then starting to look at its role and I have since then obtained what was the UNDSS certification that it was safe. And it says things like the residents is recommended to UN personnel but it also says that there were CCTV cameras covering the area 24/7, that the gate was fine, and it recommended some mitigating measures. I guess my question is, if a month ago... more than a month ago, you'd said from here that the UN was investigating its role, what happened in that month? Is it true that, as was said in this DSS certification, that there are close… you know, closed-captioned TV running the whole time? And if so, why didn't the…
Spokesman: Again, I think you have access to documents that I don't have access to.
ICP Correspondent: Well, you can get this.
Spokesman: Well, I'm not… obviously, I'm not on the distribution list of the same documents that you are on. The… there was a preliminary work that was done, I think, as Farhan announced last week. A special investigation will be conducted. I expect to be… to be able to announce more details on that investigation either later today or at tomorrow's briefing. Obviously, they will take a look at all the circumstances, what decisions were taken by… by the UN, and, obviously, the fact that the perpetrators of these attacks will need to be brought to justice.
In South Sudan, UN DSS Called Terrain Apartments Safe Before July 2016 Rapes and Murder of Journalist John... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd
At the August 17 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about is whether the head of, my understanding is he is or was the head of the UNDSS [Department of Safety and Security] in South Sudan, Chris Du Toit, I'm told that he had in writing deemed the Terrain Apartments to be "safe" for UNFPA [United Nations Population Fund], FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and other staff to live in and that he's now just recently gone on leave. Was such a determination made? And how does the UN, in places like Juba, determine and certify off-site places for its personnel to live? [Vine here.]
Deputy Spokesman: Well, first of all, I'm not going to get into the specific facts of the case, which are being determined, like I said, first, by the body that's from the UN Mission that's already been working on this and now by a special investigation that will be formed in the coming days. What I can say more generally is simply that we do rely on our Department of Safety and Security to determine, in any country, where places are that are safe for UN staff to stay.
ICP Question: Right. So, it's fair to say that this was… this place had been determined to be safe? That's why people were living there…
Deputy Spokesman: No, that's not fair to say. I'm not… like I said, I'm not going into any specific facts. Those remain to be determined by the groups who are looking into it.
ICP Question: And I also want to ask one thing. I've heard that… that staff of UNFPA in particular, but other UN system staff were discouraged of speaking with the media in the month since this event took place. And I wanted to know, is that… what is the UN's… does it feel that it has a right to tell its staff not to speak about things that… that… in which they themselves were the victims, or are they free at all times to speak about what happens to them?
Deputy Spokesman: No, people are free to speak to the media. Obviously, as staff are aware, when there's an investigation under way, we don't want to prejudice the course of an investigation. [Vine here.]But that… and that is what's happening. But, as a general rule, yes, of course, they're free.
ICP Question: But, it seems like this investigation is really triggered by the AP report. That's why I say it's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem. You were doing your own report. Then the AP ran a story where people spoke to it anonymously, and now you're doing a special investigation. Is that…?
Deputy Spokesman: I don't think that that's fair. I think part of what was happening is that the facts uncovered by the UN Mission prompted the people here at Headquarters to believe that something more is needed...
Inner City Press: I've gone back and looked at it. On 11 July, I asked Stéphane [Dujarric], as it happened, about the Terrain. And he said he hadn't heard anything about it. And then, two days later, Ellen Løj was on the TV screen, and I asked her about Terrain. And she said she acknowledged that she was aware of it and that they'd sent… they called the army to go. And then, on 14 July, Stéphane said more about it. That's what you're referring to. Was there any other statement that you guys proactively put out? When?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes. Exactly. We got those… those were the details we shared over the days as we got them.
Also, who is going to DO Ban's belated (second) investigation? Will the investigation involve DPKO's “conduct & discipline unit” under Mercedes Gervilla, or OIOS' Michael Dudley - the spouse of Mercedes Gervilla? It's “all in the family,” as is so often the case in Ban's UN, where Ban's mentor Han Seung-soo is given a UN post while on the board of Standard Chartered Bank, with two contracts with the UN. We'll have more on this.
On August 16, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Farhan Haq what was done in the last month, other than cover up. Video compilation here; Vine here, UN Transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about the Terrain Apartments. I went back and looked not only at what Ms. [Ellen] Løj said, but the day after that, Stéphane [Dujarric], on 14 July, when asked about what she said, said that the UN was already at that time investigating its own role. So, I wanted to know, in the intervening month, what has the UN found out? Like, yesterday, it was said sort of like the UN, based on the AP report, is going to be looking into it. In the month since 14 July and now, [16 August], what did the UN find out about its role?
Deputy Spokesman: Like I said, we are investigating this. That investigation has not concluded. We may have more to say on this in the next day or so in terms of what will be done in terms of any further investigation, but at this stage, the point is it's ongoing.
ICP Question: But, when did the investigation start, I guess, having now looked at what was said on 14 July? Did it start then or did it not start until now?
Deputy Spokesman: It started very rapidly upon the first awareness of this incident, which, as you're aware, we reported to you at the time.
Not so much - when Inner City Press asked, Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he knew nothing; it took a question to SRSG Loy to get the first admission, see below.
On July 11, Inner City Press received video about the attack while in the UN Press Briefing Room; many including on Capitol Hill in DC were asked about it. But only on August 15 did the US, through its Ambassador Power, say anything.
Is this is a(nother) joint UN and US Administration cover-up?
Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on July 11 said he didn't know anything about it. UN Envoy Ellen Loj on July 13 told Inner City Press UNMISS had called the SPLA to go to Terrain. But, Inner City Press pointed out, there were already there.
On July 14, when Inner City Press asked ask, Dujarric claimed the UN was looking into its own role. Video here. Then, nothing.
Now after a detailed report by AP, Inner City Press on August 15 asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about what Loj has said. Beyond the Vine here. Haq said everything is being investigated, including the UN's role. But what happend with the investigation Dujarric claimed a month ago?
On the evening of August 15, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power put out a statement, which rightly if belatedly noted that "We are deeply concerned that United Nations peacekeepers were apparently either incapable of or unwilling to respond to calls for help. We have requested and are awaiting the outcome of an investigation by the United Nations and demand swift corrective action in the event that these allegations are substantiated."
But the US was told of this more than a month ago. And what follow up has there been on the UN's "investigations" of inaction in Malakal in South Sudan, and on the rapes in the Central African Republic? On UN abuses in Haiti and in its own headquarters? We'll have more on this.
- this while refusing to answer for example which corporate boards of directors Ban's mentor and Special Adviser on Water and Disaster Risk Reduction Han Seung-soo is on. This is a new low for the UN - watch this site.
On August 12 as the UN Security Council prepared to meet on South Sudan, the vote was pushed back from 10 am to 3 pm and the draft weakened to omit triggers for an arms embargo and to require cooperation with the Salva Kiir government.
When the vote occurred, there were four abstentions: China, Russia, Egypt and Venezuela. It was adopted 11-0-4. Here is the final version, as obtained from the UN and put on Scribd by Inner City Press, here. US deputy ambassador David Pressman said that if there is obstruction, the Council will vote about whether to impose an arms embargo. Tweeted photo here. The Chamber was hardly full, tweeted photo here.
Then after the other members' speeches, including Egypt citing the Security Council's inaction on its Burundi resolution (Inner City Press has put the Explanation of Vote online here) and France entirely ignoring that, South Sudan was given the floor and trashed the resolution. Photo of South Sudan government trio here.
One expected someone - the US? - to do a reply. But back down at the stakeout, the US and France walked together down the hall; others noted the contradictions between some members speeches and their votes. It was done.
Inner City Press this morning exclusively published a memo that the International Crisis Group sent to lobby the Council, against sanctions -- in this case against Salva Kiir's Chief of General Staff Paul Malong, about whom we have repeatedly reported.
The author, Casie Copeland, has appeared more publicly in the page of the UK Independent, here. In her ICG memo some may see an echo of the NYT's current series on “think tanks” in Washington, or may question how opposing sanctions on Malong, given his history then and since, is consistent with researching and lobbying for peace. Ms. Copeland's explanation, which we requested, we publish in full below.
Separately Inner City Press hears that neither Kiir-favoring Uganda nor Sudan may officially send new troops to South Sudan, leaving it for Kenya and, yes, Ethiopia. From the ICG memo:
"From: Casie Copeland [at] crisisgroup.org
Subject: South Sudan Sanctions
I hope this finds you well and enjoying the last days of summer. I am writing with respect to the proposed sanctions on two South Sudanese generals.
As you know, the ceasefire workshop after some delays is now scheduled from September 10-15. Both the government and opposition have nominated a set of strong military and police leaders to the workshop and individuals we know to be serious about taking the next steps to establish modalities for the ceasefire - such as identification of forces, number of forces in Juba, withdraw of allies, re-supply procedures, and so on. There is reason to be cautiously optimistic for the outcomes of the workshop.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that much of the fate of this very tenuous agreement rests on the parties abilities to come to agreement at the workshop and leave committed to implementing the agreement.
Sanctions at this point would dramatically undermine IGAD's ability to secure workable arrangements for the ceasefire and thus, potentially the overall agreement. However the threat of sanctions for those who undermine the workshop or violate the agreement afterthe workshop could be useful.
This is particularly true from the perspective of the government. The Chief of General Staff, despite his reservations about much of the peace agreement, came to the venue the day of the signing in Juba to support his President's decision. His support for Kiir was critical in overcoming many of his Bahr el Ghazal (and other) constituency's threats to withdraw support from Kiir if he signed the agreement. To sanction him would appear to be a "slap in the face" to a man whose support for the President's decision to sign was critical in maintaining cohesion in Juba and whose continued support will be absolutely critical to implementing the peace agreement.To make a small point about a ceasefire violation, the Security Council could doom the entire agreement.
I look forward to being in touch with you on this and other matters moving forward. Please do be in touch if I can provide any further information or insight that may be of use.
Casie Copeland, J.D.
South Sudan Analyst
International Crisis Group"
As noted Inner City Press requested an explanation and anything else and publishes it in full:
Last year within a few weeks of the signing of the peace agreement (ARCSS) we understood there was a proposal to sanction the Chief of General Staff of the national army. This followed weeks of intensive pressure on the government to encourage them to sign the ARCSS. The pressure was successful and the government signed the agreement despite the reluctance of many senior officials in government. It was our belief, at that time, that to sanction General Malong would have led to the government disavowing the peace agreement and could have led to an irrevocable deterioration in relations between the Governments of South Sudan and the United States. It is our belief that neither of those outcomes would have served the interests of peace in South Sudan. I am not aware of any proposal since then to sanction General Malong so would be unable to comment on any such proposal.
As for the email in question, we undertake advocacy to all council members on a regular basis. This is done through a number of means and modes of communication, including email. So while this email was widely circulated, it was part of wider advocacy on this topic which included a public statement - "No Sanctions without Strategy" - and reached many other council members directly, including the US government. Warm regards,"
Casie Copeland, J.D.
South Sudan Analyst
International Crisis Group
Back on August 10 after UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien visited South Sudan, Inner City Press asked him about UN delays in registering Internally Displaced People (IDPs) arriving at the UN's Protection of Civilians sites and about reported UN inaction as mostly Nuer women were raped just outside the PoC site in Juba.
O'Brien acknowledged some delay in registration, diplomatically chiding the government for suggestion that people return to where they had fled from in order to register. He described a quickly built camp in Wau, though the reports of registration delay have mostly been from Juba.
Pressed on the issue of UN inaction on rapes, O'Brien said he had not gathered any new information about the allegations during his visit, adding that Salva Kiir told him rapes are “unacceptable.”
Interestingly, O'Brien said that now food is only allowed be to flown in from Uganda, not Sudan or Kenya. We'll have more on this.
Separately, Inner City Press asked O'Brien about the “Functional Review” he had commissioned, and the Heads of Office critique of it, which Inner City Press published here.
O'Brien in his response offered praise and emphasized how short a time he's been at OCHA. We'll continue to report on whether O'Brien, and certain other Ban Ki-moon Under Secretaries General, can or will remain under the Next SG. Some, "even" P-5, should go. Watch this site