By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- As Inner City Press has reported on UN Peacekeeping's unseemly two-tier structure, under which in Mali African Ambassadors complain their troops are left in danger, not allowed to use the equipment of NATO members in the UN mission, DPKO chief Herve Ladsous has refused to answer, and Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has enabled and assisted Ladsous.
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.
On the morning of December 27, Inner City Press asked three Ban Ki-moon spokespeople questions including:
"In Mali it is reported that Dutch UN Peacekeepers are not going on patrol due to lack of “night vision binoculars and equipment to jam roadside bombs.” Please confirm or deny, state if other UN peacekeepers for example from Chad do go on patrol without these, and explain any disparity."
More than five working hours later, no answer, no confirmation of receipt.
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.