Tuesday, November 29, 2016

After Burundi Protest of UN, French PR Tells ICP of Guterres, Ban's Spox Still Knows Nothing of Note Verbale

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up to Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, November 29 -- Amid human rights abuses in Burundi and the Central African Republic, on November 23 Inner City Press exclusively reported and documented that the United Nations has told the Burundian government of Pierre Nkurunziza it must replace, and cannot deploy to CAR, nine officers.

Inner City Press exclusively obtained and published the UN's confidential Note Verbale with the nine names, below.  Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople questions about the note verbale in writing on November 25: no answer. On November 28, Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press he would “take a look at it.” On November 29, he had nothing - but the paperwork for more deployments by and payment to the Nkurunziza government emerged.

   In front of the UN Security Council on November 29 Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about the protests. midtown Manhattan.  He replied that Burundi was one of the topics discussed by new Secretary General Antonio Guterres when he was in Paris. Video here. From the French Mission's transcript, this time included by them:

Inner City Press Q: What about the Burundi protests against the UN? Do you intend to do anything on Burundi, there were major protests against the UN. They said that the UN is trafficking weapons in the country, pretty much ignored the call...

Amb Delattre: We remain completely mobilized on Burundi. This was one of the topics of discussion when Antonio Guterres and then Ban Ki-moon went to Paris a few days ago. Thank you for mentioning it, this remains for us a key priority. And as we speak we work on the implementation of resolution 2303.

  We'll see.

This is an attempt by outgoing UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to protect the Nkurunziza government and his CAR mission accused of sexual abuse from Human Rights recommendations that no more Burundian peacekeepers by used and paid by the UN.

But as even Ladsous' terms -- "full cooperation" with the UN - was immediately rejected by the Nkurunziza goverment with a mandated protest of the UN scheduled for November 26 - Ban Ki-moon's UN stayed silent.

On November 28, after Ban's spokespeople left entirely unanswered the Burundi questions Inner City Press submitted to them on the morning of November 25, a day on which they got paid, Inner City Press at the (next) noon briefing asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:   I have some questions on Burundi, many of which I sent to your office on Friday and were not answered.  One has to do with this note verbale between the UN and the Government of Burundi, where it says that nine officials are not to be deployed, but says that the rest of the things can be deployed but will be subject to the full cooperation of the Government of Burundi with the UN system.  And, as you know, on Saturday, there was a protest in Burundi at which it was mandatory to attend the protest if you're a Government official, and the UN has been accused by the chairman of the ruling party of having distributed weapons in connection with what they say is a plot against them.  So I wanted to know couple of things.  Also… finally, I just want to get your answer to this.  There's a French company called OMP Solutions, which is online saying it sold uniforms and provided services for pay in connection with the Burundian deployment.  So I wanted to know how many UN Missions this French compay, they're promoting it, and many in Burundi now allege that the fact that the head of peacekeeping is from France and that this company is openly selling services only to Francophone Africa deployments creates a conflict of interest.  So those were the questions.

Spokesman:  I don't know about the company.  We can try to find out.  You can look on the procurement website to see if they do any business with the UN.  As far as any link between… conflict of interests between the fact that the head of peacekeeping may be… is French and that the company may be French, I think, is completely out of the question.

Inner City Press:  My question is…

Spokesman:  (cutting in) Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous is an international civil servant.  There are a lot of the companies that do business with the UN where its nationals are also there.  To me that's a non-issue.  On the… we've seen these reports of accusing the UN of participating in weapons trafficking.  I can tell you that we, obviously, categorically deny any allegations of weapons trafficking in Burundi, which are untrue, without basis, and extremely dangerous.  The UN has been working to support the Burundian people, with extensive humanitarian development efforts, and has also been supporting efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Burundi.

Inner City Press:  One follow-up on that.  The reason for the follow-up is… is this, is that the letter… this note verbale, which was never announced from your platform, but we… Inner City Press obtained it and published it on Wednesday, said… it goes against what the Panel of Experts propose, which was to not use Burundian peacekeepers anymore be… due to the human rights issues.  And so, clearly, somebody… and I'd like… I think you should be able to announce… to say this.  Who overrode the human rights, given Rights Up Front and other things, who made the decision to continue the deployment?

Spokesman:  Let me take a look. I haven't seen the note verbale.  Let me take a look at it.
   By the time Ban's spokesperson's office closed hours later, nothing.

  On November 25, a day on which the UN was open and Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's office had many people in and getting paid, Inner City Press in the morning submitted this question:

“In Burundi tomorrow Nov 26 there is scheduled to be a demonstration against the UN Panel of Experts, in which government employees are required to participate. (Photo attached). Please before the event provide the UN Secretariat's / Ban Ki-moon's comment - and, separately, how it will be acted on under the Note Verbale about Burundian troops in MINUSCA which Inner City Press obtained and published on November 23.”

   Neither that day, nor in the two days since, has Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office provide any response. This as UN staff members in Burundi call in, scared of the targeting. Ban Ki-moon, Ladsous and others including UN “Communications” / censorship chief Cristina Gallach, have failed, and are responsible. #BanGenocide.

Even the UN's “Note Verbale” to the Burundian government which Inner City Press exclusively obtained and published said that “the deployment of Burundian troops to MINUSCA will remain under close review, based on the evaluation of the situation in Burundi, the full cooperation of the Government of Burundi with the entire United Nations system” -- click here for exclusive photo.

   Not only has the Pierre Nkurunziza government since the Note Verbale openly rejected the three members of the UN Panel of Experts replacing the three it previously declared Persona Non Grata -- now mandatory protests of the UN Panel have been decreed for Saturday, November 26. Letter here.

This is the opposite of the “full cooperation” Ladsous and Ban Ki-moon said is required to continue paying Burundi. So will the UN payments and deployment immediately end?

Neither Ladsous nor Ban Ki-moon have lived up to “Rights Up Front” to date. So incoming Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who should fire and replace Ladsous and Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach who has censored Inner City Press as it reports on human rights, has been written to, by the RDB to demand a new UN mediator. We'll have more on this.

There's more. Inner City Press then reported on the "100% French" firm, OMP Solutions, which makes money selling equipment, uniforms and services to Troop Contributing Countries in UN Peacekeeping operations run by Ladsous.

  Now OMP Solutions has responded to Inner City Press with this paragraph, which raises more questions than it answers:

"In 2014, Burundi was selected by the UN to take part in the “Minusca” peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic. Burundi chose the OMP Solutions group to supply its personnel for the operation carried out on behalf of the UN. The 5-year contract between the Government of the Republic of Burundi and the OMP Solutions group involved the supply of equipment and maintenance in operational condition of this equipment, along with accompaniment for the deployment of one battalion (750 troops) and 2 Police forces (140 men per FPU). This contract covered the equipment with which the troops would be supplied (mobile kitchen, solid toilets, generators, tents, uniforms, logistical vehicles, etc.); under no circumstances were any weapons to be supplied. In July 2016, the UN decided not to relieve the Burundi Police forces present in the CAR. This meant repatriating the equipment and men to Burundi following the UN’s decision. The Buderrundi battalion should be relieved in December 2016. 95% of the equipment specified in the contract was delivered by OMP Solutions to the port of Douala in Cameroon. These goods were then transported to the theatre of operations by the UN (Sibut, Bangui) Each year, the UN dedicates nearly $7.5 billion to Peacekeeping Operations around the world. The States who want to take part in these operations submit their applications to the UN, which then examines the intervention conditions and declares whether or not the States are eligible."

  We'll have more on this. The company's website says:

"Through a global and integrated commercial offer, OMP SOLUTIONS has been implemented for African countries seeking to match all requirements set by the United Nations regarding eligibility and reimbursement for Peacekeeping Operations. OMP Solutions is a 100% French Joint-Venture bringing together the “Groupe Marck” and Ineo Support Global, a subsidiary of ENGIE, heightening the associate’s International visibility."

What safeguards are in place to ensure that Ladsous, the fourth French official in a row to head UN Peacekeeping, does not abuse the total discretion he has asserts to keep the Burundians in MINUSCA in CAR, to benefit French business? We'll have more on this.

  The UN's own Panel of Experts recommended no further UN use of Burundian peacekeepers; the Nkurunziza government declared the three panel members Persona Non Grata. When three new panel members were named this week, the UN's Dorian Lacombe, a former spokesman to Ladsous, sent it to numerous UN correspondents who do not even cover Burundi, but not to Inner City Press which does.

   This is the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his Communications chief Cristina Gallach: try to exclude, even evict and restrict, the Press which reports on human rights, and whose exclusives have been credited, for example earlier this month, by the Associated Press. This retaliation must change, and the officials responsible for it should leave.

   Here are nine Burundian officials that, “on the basis of a review of the personal history profiles” of which the UN has told Burundi's government to exclude and name replacements for by December 1:

Maj. Ferdinand NIYONGABO
Capt. Deogratias AHISHAKIYE
Capt. Medico NZITUNGA
Capt. Diomede SINZUMUNSI
Capt. Richard GATERETSE
Capt. Dieudonne NTUKAMAZIMA

   Separately, Burundian who Ladsous has used in the CAR mission stand accused of sexual abuse and exploitation, as Inner City Press has also exclusively reported, here. We'll have more on this.

The UN of Ban Ki-moon can't even handle attacks on Ban's own envoys correctly, or keep its story straight. Nor will it stand by its own humanitarian staff's finding of famine.

Inner City Press was leaked an email by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that specifically cited famine in Kirundo and other prefectures.

But in a UN Peacekeeping Configuration meeting on November 18, OCHA's representative made a point of saying, just before Burundi's Ambassador Albert Shingiro spoke, that there is no famine in Burundi, unlike the Press has reported. The UN presentations, including by UN “resident coordinator” Paolo Lembo, ignored all the things that the UN's own Panel of Experts said make out a risk of genocide.

 So much for Ban Ki-moon's supposed “Rights Up Front” -- even Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee, who Ban promoted to resident coordinator in Kenya without recusing himself, doesn't even pretend to follow “Rights Up Front” as South Sudanese are targeted and raided.

  The Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi has, at times, done some good work. But the OCHA presentation on November 18, particularly in light of OCHA's own internal communications about famine, was shameful, and raising questions about who should head OCHA in 2017.

It was said that PBC chief Taranco was briefing the new Secretary General during the meeting. What are Antonio Guterres' views and ideas on Burundi? We'll report what we find. Watch this site.

Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza government is faced with documented allegations of sexual abuse and the impending repatriation of peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, as reflected in the Council of Ministers November 16 agenda tweeted here by Inner City Press, changes to the constitution are afoot in Burundi, reported to remove term limits. Nkurunziza wants to buy time, paralyzing the outside mediation, until his fraudulent internal process can be used to change the constitution and term limitsand allow him to remain in power.

Inner City Press on November 14 exclusively reported that the UN system says it has documentary evidence of sexual abuse by no fewer than 25 Burundian “peacekeepers.”  Separately, six other of Burundi's deployees are failing the human rights vetting that occurs but which can, in Ban's UN, be overriden.

On this basis, those closest to this human rights issue urge, as recommended by the Independent Panel which Burundi has thrown out of the country, that no more Burundian troops be deployed to Central African Republic.

  But UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, the sources tell Inner City Press, wants to ignore this evidence and human rights recommendations and keep paying the Nkurunziza government.

  Meanwhile that government has taken to demanding that the UN World Food Program pay it money to pay its own Burundian government staff ostensibly to do UN work.

Not only is WFP staying quiet: now they are using another wire service to deny the famine that was exposed in the OCHA email that Inner City Press exclusively published, below. This is what Ban Ki-moon's UN has come to, despite claims of “Rights Up Front.” We'll have more on this.

  On October 20 Pierre Nkurunziza wrote a letter to Ban Ki-moon, trying to paralyze the UN process. Inner City Press asked about the letter at the UN noon briefing on November 11 and November 14. Then  a wire service was found to write only about the letter, not about the rapes or repatriations, no context. What does Ban care? He wants to run for office in South Korea - and maybe to get term limits extended.

Inner City Press on November 10 reported from Burundian sources of attempts by the Pierre Nkurunziza government to “PNG” or persona non-grata Ban's Special Adviser on Conflict Prevention Jamal Benomar, who covers Burundi among other countries.

On November 15, for the third time, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm the letter. This time he claimed he had confirmed the exchange, last week. Video here form 19:30.  But here's the November 11 UN transcript:

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have anything to say in particular about diplomatic correspondence.  What I do have to say is that Jamal Benomar continues to go about his work as a Special Advisor, including his work on Burundi.

Inner City Press:  Did the Secretary-General write farewell letters to Heads of State such as Mr. Nkurunziza?  Does that -- seems like a pretty --
Deputy Spokesman:  I believe he will be in the process.  I don't know whether that's all written, but I believe that as he ends his term, he will be writing letters to the various Heads of State.

 That's confirmation? Or cover up? We'll have more on this.

  On November 11, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm the “PNG” was in fact a letter replying to Ban Ki-moon's canned farewell letter as Ban leaves December 31 (seemingly to run for President of South Korea and get term limits there extended, though both dreams may be dying).

   But Haq refused to confirm, which would have in context supported Ban's envoy. From the November 11 transcript:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you on Burundi and I don't know if you addressed this, but there are a lot of reports floating around that Pierre Nkurunziza has written to Ban Ki-moon asking that Jamal Benomar be either -- I guess he couldn't be replaced as Special Advisor on Conflict Prevention but no longer be the interlocutor from the UN system.  And I will also, that's what is reported there, that he has been PNGed.  I've also heard it may have just been a letter back from Mr. Nkurunziza to Ban Ki-moon responding to a farewell letter saying:  and also your Envoy is leaving.  Can you clarify this?  Because this is wide -- has he been asked to replace him or is it just an off-handed comment in a letter?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have anything to say in particular about diplomatic correspondence.  What I do have to say is that Jamal Benomar continues to go about his work as a Special Advisor, including his work on Burundi.

Inner City Press:  Did the Secretary-General write farewell letters to Heads of State such as Mr. Nkurunziza?  Does that -- seems like a pretty --
Deputy Spokesman:  I believe he will be in the process.  I don't know whether that's all written, but I believe that as he ends his term, he will be writing letters to the various Heads of State.

   On November 14, Haq called on first on AFP, which asked about possible PNG, with no reference to any letter. Inner City Press when finally called on asked again about the letter and Haq said some farewell letter have begun.
Later on November 14 APF wrote about the letter, quoting none other than Burundi's often-absent Ambassador Albert Shingiro.

 Whistleblowers leaked the email below to Inner City Press; Inner City Press has asked the listed author for comment and has still received none. The email is below. On November 8 at noon, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it.  The UN internal email says famine. Having asked, the author and Dujarric, we re-publish the email in full, below.

From: Nazzarena Ferraro /OCHA
To: Micaela Malena at unhcr.org
Date: 07/11/2016 10:40
Subject: Mouvements of populations from Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo et Ruyigi.

Dear Micaela,                                        

We are trying to follow up at the inter sector level, on the movements of populations across the borders with Tanzania, during the past two weeks.
Such movements would be in connection with the latest phenomena of droughts, insufficient harvest and famine in Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo et Ruyigi.

According to governmental and UN agencies, populations are attempting to cross into Tanzania from various border points.

Do you have any information that you can share with the inter-sector on these movements of populations?

Are you aware of any incidents relating to Tanzanian custom authorities refusing entry permission to Burundian individuals or groups? (an incident would have occurred at the entry point in Kasange, pls see the attached Map for easy of reference).

Do you have any information on incidents occurring at the border with Rwanda, involving Burundian Citizens?

What are the legal provisions governing the relationships between Tanzania and Burundi – regarding movements of persons within the territory of the two country?

Aren’t Tanzania and Burundi part of the same regional Treaties or Accords – East African Community and others?  Then in this case, shouldn't Burundian citizens  allowed entry into Tanzania, regardless of whether or not they are seeking humanitarian protection or asylum ?

Grateful if you could share any information during the inter-sector meeting today

Nazzarena Ferraro, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, OCHA Burundi office |Bujumbura, Burundi |UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

 We'll have more on this.

  Alain Aime has tweeted celebration of leaving the ICC, as on October 31 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about mass graves.

In Burundi, with Ban Ki-moon silent except for his planned run for South Korea president, the government arrested journalists Julia Steers, an American, and Gildas Yihundimpundu, a Burundian journalist (CPJ deems his a fixer) whose station Radio Bonesha was burned down and closed by the government -- while Ban praised Nkurunziza for “re-opening” two pro-government stations.

On October 25, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric,  Video here

On October 24, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press:  some journalists were arrested, reportedly while investigating mass graves.  It was an American journalist, J.C. [Julia] Steers, and a Burundian journalist, Gildas, and their driver.  This has gone out all over the world.  There's a list that's emerged of enemies of the State put out by the CNDD-FDD. 

So what I wonder is, what… if he's there and these things are taking place, how… do these constructive meetings involve talking about journalists being arrested for trying to document [inaudible]…

Spokesman:  We're very much aware of the arrests of the journalists, something that's very regrettable to say the least.  We understand that both the journalists and the driver, who was also arrested, have now been released.  We are in touch with our colleagues at the Human Rights Office in Bujumbura and trying to look into the exact circumstances of what has happened.

It is clear that there is a need for the media and the press to be able to operate freely in Burundi and every other… every other place for that matter.

ICP Question:  And what about the lists that emerged?  Are there any steps being taken by the UN to make sure the UN itself doesn't target media that are listed on the list?

Spokesman:  The UN is not in the business of targeting media.

  Really? See this, and today's Swiss Radio and TVtranslated into English here.

At the UN in New York, when a photo of Burundi's Ambassador'sempty seat during the first speech by Ban's successor Antonio Guterres is tweeted out, threats including death threats ensue. Then again, today's UN has no respect for freedom of the press, even in its own headquarters, evicting its perceived critics and restricting them to minders. So where is the US, UK, EU and others? Watch this site.

Separately, there's this list.

On October 13, after the UN Security Council had a closed door meeting about Burundi and Inner City Press just outside the Council asked about leaving the ICC and the Mkapa or Museveni process, a draft Security Council press statement was proposed and put “under silence” until 10 am on October 14.

   But, Inner City Press has exclusively just learned, major changes were proposed - and accepted by the drafter and pen holder, France. France's approach to Burundi can be contrasted to the position(s) it took on its recent Syria draft. We have put the marked up draft online, here. We'll have more on this.

Here's what was accepted and emailed out past noon:And On October 12, Inner City Press asked Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, if the AU vets those whom the Nkurunziza government sends to the AU Mission in Somalia, AMISOM. The answer was no -- although Mwencha did say that Burundi needs an inclusive dialogue.

On October 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the reported plan to deploy Nkurunziza guard Ildephone Habarurema to the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM, to which the UN provides support. Despite Ban Ki-moon's claims about human rights first and vetting, Dujarric said the UN has no role in vetting to whom it provides support. So does no one vet?

On September 20 when Francois Hollande the president of France, which “holds the pen” on Burundi in the UN Security Council, came to hold a press conference, Inner City Press went early to ask him about it.

   But before the press conference began, one of Hollande's Team not only declared rows of the UN Press Briefing Room “reserved” -- she also announced there would be only four questions, two international, which she pre-selected.

  After this staged show, Inner City Press asked, Burundi? What will you do on Burundi, and cited the risk of genocide in the day's UN report. Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault turned and looked -- nothing. Beyond the Vine video, here.

  Inner City Press went to formally tell UN Spokesman Dujarric, who has in the past lent out the UN press briefing room to France, and then to others, and got Inner City Press thrown out. Dujarric said curtly, “Thanks.” We'll have more on this.