Tuesday, November 8, 2016

ICP Dared Ask UN Ladsous About Dead Peacekeepers in Mali, Now Another, From Togo, In Mopti

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 6 -- As Inner City Press has reported on the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations' unseemly two-tier structure, under which in Mali African troops are left in danger, DPKO chief Herve Ladsous has refused to answer, and Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has enabled and assisted Ladsous.

Now, days after outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for UN Peacekeeping failings in South Sudan fired Kenyan force commander Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki instead, again, of Ladsous, another African UN peacekeeper has been killed in Mali, this time from Togo.

  It was a “deadly complex attack that occurred today north of Douentza, in the Mopti region, claiming the life of two Malian civilians and killing one peacekeeper from Togo while injuring seven others.”

Ban, again out of town, cranked out a robo-comment. But Ladsous still hasn't answered -- he refused again on November 3 -- and the two tier scandal can't be blamed on Ondieki. Or will Ban's UN find another scapegoat for Ladsous? Watch this site.

Back on October 6 Inner City Press was the only media staking out the UN Security Council meeting on Mali for two hours. It wanted to ask Ladsous about the lack of equipment that has contributed to the deaths of 13 peacekeepers since May 31 of this year, including from Mali in Aguelhok.

    Just before the meeting ended, a French journalist showed up. Ladsous came out, avoided Inner City Press' question and summoned the French journalist to the area in front of the elevator that would carry him upstairs.

   Inner City Press waited while Ladsous spoke to or at the French journalist. Inner City Press told the representative of the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison unit that it intended to ask Ladsous a question when he was finished with the French journalist.

The MALU representative said it was fine, just as MALU recent told Inner City Press it was fine to wait by the elevators to ask a question to the new UN resident coordinator in Kenya -- who just happens to be the son in law of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

   When Ladsous finished, Inner City Press approached and asked if the Malian peacekeepers have access to the same equipment as NATO members in the UN Mission in Mali, like the Dutch. Ladsous did not answer.

Inner City Press stood by the glass door to the elevator vestibule, never going in, and encouraged Ladsous to provide some answer, given that he is the head of UN Peacekeeping and peacekeepers have been killed.

  Ladsous said, I do not speak to you, and got on the elevator. Inner City Press wrote a story and edited from a longer video and uploaded the six-second Vine video of Ladsous' “answer.” Click here to view.

It was even more outrageous given that Ladsous' mission in Mali has admitted it “has been responsible for the death of a detainee arrested over terrorism offences and two cases of torture in the last four months. Two other cases of sexual exploitation and abuse have been filed against its staff since the beginning of the year.”

  Ladsous, while refusing to answer the questions of Inner City Press which closely covers UN Peacekeeping, has overseen the scandal of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Central African Republic and elsewhere. How Ban Ki-moon has kept Ladsous on, and allowed him to openly refuse to answer Press questions, raises other questions.

   Then Inner City Press was told that based on a complaint -- it is not said from whom -- to some higher level of the UN, DPI's Cristina Gallach (already questioned by UN Special Rapporteurs, here) or Ban Ki-moon, it might be censured for daring to ask Ladsous about the dead Malian peacekeepers, in the area by the elevator where not only Ladsous himself spoke to or at the French journalists, but other correspondents fire questions at officials and diplomats with or without their consent.

  This is clear targeting of Inner City Press. When asked about it, just before its opportunity to ask French foreign minister Jean Marc Ayrault about the Saudi airstrike on a funeral in Sanaa (click here for Ayrault Vinehere for Saudi Ambassador Q&A with Inner City Press), and to Ayrault about Burundi (here), Inner City Press told MALU that for example France 24 has pursued other Under Secretary General even right to the elevator door, including the laying on of hands.

Why would Inner City Press be threatened with being censured in any way for doing less than what France 24 does? The Free UN Coalition for Access (FUNCA) told MALU if anything it could “remind” all correspondents of the rules for questions by the elevators -- whatever those unclear rules are. MALU told Inner City Press it could ask Ladsous, and it did. Any censure would be tantamount to censorship - part of a pattern.

Is Ban Ki-moon angry his son in law got asked about nepotism? But since MALU told Inner City Press it was okay to wait and ask, both then and with Ladsous October 6, it would be transparent retaliation and set-up to censure or "remind." The threat was meant to chill or hinder reporting. This is what the UN has been made, for now, by Ban, Ladsous and Gallach.

Now while MINUSMA speaks of the death in Mali of Cheikh Ag Aoussa, Ladsous would presumably refuse Press questions on that too - and Inner City Press, in the twisted logic of Ban Ki-moon's UN, could be censured for even trying to ask.

On October 6 after the Security Council's meeting about Mali, Inner City Press as one of only two media at the stakeout sought to ask Ladsous if the Chadian peacekeepers he is responsible for have the same equipment as the NATO members in the MINUSMA mission, like the Dutch.

   Ladsous told a French reporter to follow up toward the elevator, where he gave out a few quotes. Out of respect for this other media, Inner City Press waited - and when that “interview” was over, Inner City Press asked, “Do the Chadians have the same equipment as the NATO?” Ladsous smirked, then said “I do not speak to you.” Vine here.

This is Ban Ki-moon's UN - a place of waste, incompetence and censorship, from which Ban's Gallach had Inner City Press thrown out earlier this year for trying to cover the corruption. Now there may be an attempt to use Inner City Press daring to ask Ladsous a question against it - even after Inner City Press told Media Accreditation it would ask him a question, where he had chosen to take a picked French journalist.

On October 7, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Farhan Haq what Ladsous has refused to answer, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: I wanted to follow up on what you said about the meeting on Mali yesterday.  This question of equipment, including communications and night-vision equipment, did come up.  I tried to ask Mr. Ladsous afterwards whether this means that the Chadians, who have suffered a disproportionate number of deaths in the mission, will have access to this equipment, and he didn't answer.  So I wanted to ask you specifically, are… this… this reference to getting night vision and other communication equipment for the Chadians, has it been slow… have other parts of the MINUSMA mission that had this equipment during this period of time, have they not shared it because they may have been members of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) that can't share it, and when will it be actually provided to the entire Chadian and other African contingents within MINUSMA?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I don't speak for individual troop contingents.  What I've been saying is that we have engaged in a review to make sure that there is better distribution of equipment throughout the Mission.  That is happening, and we certainly hope that the Chadians and other contingents will get the equipment that they need.

Question:  Has DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) ever considered speaking with NATO to get them to waive what's viewed as a prohibition on the sharing of such… such equipment in the cases of UN Peacekeeping in order to preserve lives?

Deputy Spokesman:  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is in touch with various contingents just to make sure that, as the review indicates, that contingent-owned equipment can be used more equitably.  Regarding NATO's rules, you'll have to talk to NATO. 

  On September 23 when Ladsous held a “press availability” with Mali's foreign minister, Inner City Press asked the former about Al Qaeda (he answered) and Ladsous about Chadian peacekeepers denied access to NATO-members' in MINUSMA's equipment. After Mali's foreign minister answered -- Ladsous whispered to him, apparently not to -- Ladsous said, Mister you should know I never answer you questions. YouTube of UNTV Video, here.

   Ladsous' spokesman had told UN TV's boom operator to stay away from Inner City Press - despite the right of Mali and its foreign minister to not be drawn into censorship by the UN of Ladsous and, ultimately, Ban Ki-moon.

On October 3, Ban Ki-moon issued a canned statement about another Chadian peacekeeper in Mali killed - precisely the issue on which his Ladsous has refused to answer questions. This is Ban's UN - it must end. The statement:

"The Secretary-General condemns today’s series of attacks against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). According to preliminary information, four different attacks targeting MINUSMA personnel and installations occurred in Aguelhok, Kidal region, during which one peacekeeper from Chad was killed and eight others injured.

The Secretary-General presents his sincere condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper 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 these attacks to justice and recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers constitute war crimes under international law.
The Secretary-General is also concerned by the recent violations of the ceasefire arrangements by the signatory armed groups in the area of Kidal and urges signatory parties to fulfil their obligations under the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, which would contribute to restoring stability and security in the region."

   Back on July 18, Ladsous at an International Peace Institute event to which Inner City Press was not invited said he recruited two Mauritanian intelligence agents but couldn't deploy them in a NATO part of Mali. So Inner City Press on July 19 asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here and below. Now on August 8, the UN Security Council has condemned two attacks on UN Peacekeepers in Mali, which killed a peacekeeper.. from Chad. Full text here.

  While the UN says it is updating its policies, when Inner City Press on July 22 asked if new German drone in Mali will have their information shared with other peacekeepers, the answer was not "Yes." From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: you had come back with this answer about in terms of how equipment is shared in peacekeeping missions, specifically in Mali, saying there is some updating of the procedure; so I have seen since then an announcement by Airbus and the German Government that Airbus will be providing and operating a drone for German troops in Mali, presumably with the UN Mission.  And said it said that the procurement was done by the German defence procurement agency VAA and VW and covers a 15-month period.  So I want to know, do contingents that serve in UN peacekeeping, can they bring their own drones?  And, if so, is the information shared with other contingents, for example from Chad and elsewhere, that are serving in the same chain of commands?

Deputy Spokesman:  The basic point, like I mentioned, is that contingents own their own equipment.  How that is handled, like I said, where the UN is currently updating its protocols and procedures and that is designed to address issues of access of information in all UN missions.

ICP Question:  Right, so maybe you don't have an answer to this, but it seems to me they should be able to say it, it has been announced, that these drones will be flying, contracted by Germany, will this information be shared with other contingents?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, at this point I don't have an announcement to make about the use of the drones, so we will have to see what arrangements are made.  Beyond that, of course, like I said, the entire point of the policy that we're seeking is to make sure that that access to assets and information can be shared better."

While Ban's spokesperson's office never emailed Inner City Press any answer, Inner City Press on July 20 asked about it again and got this admission, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on Mali, beyond what I asked yesterday, now there is reports of a deal reached in Niger under which the Azawad Group who controlled Kidal.  I wanted to know, first, did the UN have any involvement in this negotiation of the security arrangement in Kidal?  And do you have any answer yet from DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] about what Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous said at IPI about NATO versus the Mordanian agents?

Deputy Spokesman:  On the question of the agreement of Kidal I don't have any reaction to that at present.  Regarding what you were asking yesterday, I can confirm that the UN's currently updating its protocols and procedures to address issues of access to assets and information in all UN missions.

Inner City Press:  Right. So I'm asking, a couple months ago I asked directly whether the Chadian peacekeepers could use NATO equipment in the possession of the Dutch peacekeepers and it was never answered.  And can I know, from what you have said, is this true it has been a problem for months?

Deputy Spokesman:  I mean, this is an issue that we needed to deal with.  We are not able to speak about particular arrangements by troop-contributing countries, that is not in our ability.  But this is something for which we needed to update protocols and we are currently updating protocols and procedures in order that you will have access to assets dealt with in a better way.

Inner City Press:  But isn't the mission responsible when, for example, the Netherlands contingent deployed to know whether an extremist went under attack by terrorist or extremist forces, whether these can be shared with other peacekeepers?

Deputy Spokesman:  We try to work out things, but, you have to remember, the UN itself is not the owner of this equipment and the UN itself is not the employer of the peacekeeping troops.  These are national contingents in service to the UN and their equipment are equipments by the national contingence.  You know, having said that, what we are trying to do, we do have protocols and procedures in place and we're trying to update those so that the access to assets and information will be shared.

Inner City Press:  When they say same chain that is one on this because it comes up in South Sudan where they say they want the soldiers to be all in the same chain of command, doesn't this somehow imply that you don't have one contingent with much better equipment than the other ones, not sharing it when people are under attack?

Deputy Spokesman:  The point of UN peacekeeping operations is that the peacekeepers coordinate their activities with each other so that they work efficiently together, that's what we try to do.

Here was July 19:

Inner City Press: On peacekeeping, yesterday, Under-Secretary [Hervé] Ladsous was speaking at IPI, and he said that he had recruited two intelligence agents from Mauritania, but they couldn't be put into a part of Mali where NATO and NATO member troops are… are operating.  And it… and it seemed to be a reference to this idea that there are… there's equipment that the NATO members in the mission used that can't be shared with non-NATO members.  So I wanted… I've asked about this before and was sort of never answered.  But now that he's said openly that these Mauritanian intelligence agents couldn't be de… de… deployed there, can you explain how… one, is this the case?  And, two, is it fair to have different parts of the MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) mission using better equipment than others when some peacekeepers are, in fact, getting killed? ... And specifically these two Mauritanians that he said could not be deployed where NATO was, why was that?  That's, I guess, my question.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I believe that the whole point of the MINUSMA arrangement is that they share the equipment, but I'll have to check with MINUSMA what their arrangements are.

Eight hours later and counting, nothign from Ban's Office of the Spokesperson.

Back on the UN's day for peacekeepers, about which DPKO chief Herve Ladsous refused to answer questions from the Press, five UN peacekeeper were killed in Mali. On May 31, another has been killed in Gao, three wounded, UNMAS attacked to. The UN mission MINUSMA issued this statement, in French, fast translated by InnerCityPro.com:  

"This evening at around 8:45 pm, the MINUSMA camp in the Water Castle neighborhood of Gao was the target of an attack by rockets or mortars. According to preliminary reports, one peacekeeper was killed and three were grievously wounded, while more than ten members of MINUSMA including civilians were lightly wounded and have gotten the necessary medical care. MINUSMA has deployed attack helicopters for aerial surveillance and a rapid reaction force is currently patrolling in Gao.”

  “The attack on the MINUSMA camp was followed by another attack by light arms targeting the location of the UN Mine Action Service UNMAS in another neighborhood in Gao. Two Malian private security guards and one international expert were killed.

  “I am revolved by this vicious, cowardly and totally unacceptable attack on the MINSUMA camp,” the head of MISUSMA Mahamat Saleh Annadif said. “I urge the Malian government and the local Gao authorities to ensure that those responsible for these crimes are identified and brought to justice.”

This occurs as Ban Ki-moon has just ended a multi-day trip to South Korea, where many view him as preparing to run for the Presidency. 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; InnerCityPro.com 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."

InnerCityPro.com'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.