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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

{This just on the Congo Story – But What about Sudan/Darfur and the UN itself? What about the UN not being ready to tackle misdeeds by Sudan and ITS OWN PEACEKEEPING FORCES? What is the future of the UN itself under these circumstances? Can one show “understanding” in such cases?}

  • AFRICA NEWS
  • The Wall Street Journal, SEPTEMBER 8, 2010

 online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424…

U.N. Report Faults Peacekeepers.

By JOE LAURIA

UNITED NATIONS—A United Nations official told the Security Council on Tuesday that U.N. peacekeepers charged with protecting civilians failed to prevent armed rebels from raping 242 victims in several eastern Congo villages five weeks ago.

“While the primary responsibility for protection of civilians lies with the state, its national army and police force, clearly we have also failed,” said Atul Khare, deputy head of United Nations peacekeeping operations. “Our actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalization of the population of the villages in the area.”

Mr. Khare briefed the council in a public session after a recent fact-finding mission to the region.

Marc Hoffer/AFP/Getty ImagesA soldier posted in the village of Luvungi on Sunday in northeastern Democratic Republic Congo that was attacked on July 30 by Hutu rebels. .

Mr. Khare said when he was in Congo investigating the 242 rapes, he came across evidence of 267 additional sexual attacks in villages in North and South Kivu provinces. Ten were committed by Congolese army soldiers and the rest by rebels, he said.

The U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo, known by its acronym Monusco, has drawn criticism from human-rights groups and some governments for its failure to respond sooner to the rapes, which were carried out from July 30 to Aug. 2 by two rebel groups in the villages in mineral-rich North Kivu province.

The 242 victims were primarily women, but included a handful of men and children, Mr. Khare said.

“I feel personally guilty for the people who have suffered … and I trust that all of us can do better next time,” he said.

To deter more attacks, Mr. Khare called for targeted sanctions against rebel leaders. Mr. Khare also said the terrain made travel and mobile communications difficult but recommended that the U.N. increase financing to build up a cellphone network so that peacekeepers can be warned early by locals of impending attacks. He said Monusco would begin conducting evening and night patrols.

Over the past decade, more than five million people have been killed and more than 200,000 women raped, during the war between rebel groups and the government in eastern Congo, according to the International Rescue Committee, a New York-based group. The rebels are largely financed by illegal mining and use rape to intimidate local populations, the U.N. says.

To protect civilians, the U.N. has deployed the largest peacekeeping force in its history to Congo. The force, which costs more than $1 billion a year,, comprisesing nearly 20,000 troops.

Eighty peacekeepers were deployed in a base about 20 miles from the scene of the rapes, patrolling an area of about 115 square miles. Mr. Khare said U.N. humanitarian officials in the area received unconfirmed reports of a rebel attack, including a rape, in the villages on July 30.

A Monusco patrol didn’t enter one of the villages until three days later, when mass rapes were under way. The troops spoke to the locals through an interpreter but departed after they saw no evidence of attacks and weren’t told of anything amiss, Mr. Khare said. Three days after the sexual attacks ended the peacekeepers received reports that 15 rape victims had sought medical attention.

Roger Meece, an American diplomat who heads the U.N. mission in Congo, told reporters two weeks ago he was unaware of the rapes until Aug. 12, a full week after peacekeepers learned of them.

Margot Wallström, the special U.N. representative on ending conflict-zone sexual violence, said she knew nothing about the attacks until reading about them in media reports on Aug. 21.

On Tuesday Ms. Wallström told the Security Council that women in the villages described being hunted down by half-a-dozen rebels and gang-raped in their homes. She said rebels searched for gold in the women’s genitals.

“The women of Congo are tired of wondering when their time will come to be robbed, tortured and raped,” Ms. Wallström said. Many had concluded that being gang-raped was “normal for a woman,” she said.

Write to Joe Lauria at newseditor@wsj.com

————————————————————————————————————————

For the full postings of the following – please go to www.InnerCityPress.com :

On Sudan, UN Ban Admits Limits on Peacekeepers, Gambari Summoned, Change Pledged.

In Darfur, As UN Is Blocked from Tabarat Killing Site, It Claims It Resists Sudan Restrictions.

In Central Asia, UN Office Ignores Human Rights While Presiding Over Car Bombs.

UNICEF Dodges Questions of Congo Mass Rape and Rwanda MDG Irony.

On Darfur, UN Admits 50 Dead in Tabarat, Khare Says Sudan Shouldn’t Restrict Movement
.

At UN, Council To Discuss Darfur, As UN Confirms It Awaited Approval Before Helping.

On Congo Rape Scandal, Khare Spins July 30 E-mail, Congo Army Rapes

At UN, Darfur Deaths Dismissed By Security Council Members, Inaction Like UNAMID.

After Darfur Killings, Calls for Gambari to Resign, No Responses, UN Speaks to Itself.

As Darfuris Lay Dying, UN Leak Shows Failure to Respond, Stonewalling, UNSC Soon?

Amid Death in Darfur, UN Silent, Awaiting Permission 15 Miles from Killing.

In Sudan, As Complaints of UN Inaction on Rights Mount, No Comment for 2 Days.

In Congo, July 30 UN E-mail Spoke of FDLR & Rape, 22 Rapes Reported to UN Aug 6.

On Congo Rapes, UN Admits 240 Victims, Dodges Meece Inaccuracies, Wallstrom Inaction.

In Sudan, UN Rebuffs Rights Complaints, Vets Statements With Bashir Government.

On Congo Rapes, UN Inaction & Dissembling Stretches to Wallstrom, Meece, Higher.

=====================================================

USUN PRESS RELEASE #173                                                                    September 7, 2010
AS DELIVERED

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the situation in the Congo and Darfur, at a Security Council Stakeout, September 7, 2010

Ambassador Rice: I want to begin by thanking Assistant Secretary General Khare and SRSG Wallstrom for what was both in the chamber and in our consultations a very frank, comprehensive and we think illuminating briefing on the tragic events that transpired over the last several weeks in Eastern DRC.  The rapes, the sexual violence are outrageous and the United States and the Council have condemned them in the most forceful terms.  But today, we got additional information which shed more light on what transpired, how and why.  Many of the questions that we had been asked I feel have been well answered, and we had the opportunity in consultations to really delve into such issues as why was it that when the UN patrols went through the areas subsequently they were not informed of the rapes that had occurred by the villagers.  We were able to learn better about the communications infrastructure and what might be done to improve it.  We were able to understand better some of the delays in information flowing up the chain from the field all the way through to the Security Council.  It was a very helpful and constructive discussion.

At the United States’ request we will receive, in detail, the recommendations that were made in the open Council and any others that the Secretariat feels worthy of discussion and consideration with the Security Council.  We have asked for, and there will now be, a subsequent session of the Council in which we discuss these recommendations and the way forward, such that protection of civilians in Congo, and in particular protection of women and children against rape and sexual violence can be improved and enhanced in a sustainable way.  And we’ll also look at whether the lessons learned in Congo can be applied elsewhere where sexual violence and violence against civilians is of grave concern and where protection of civilians is core to the mandate of the United Nations.  So we look forward to pursuing this with vigor.  As Ambassador Apakan said, the Council is going to be very active in following this up in partnership with the Secretariat, and with MONUSCO officials on the ground.  From the United States’ point of view, we will take up the mantle of leadership, as we have to date, in this and other contexts, on ensuring that the perpetrators of the violence are held accountable, including through our efforts in the Sanctions Committee to add them to the lists that exist and to ensure that they are sanctioned.

Finally, I want to underscore an important point, that SRSG Wallstrom made.  And that is, it is absolutely right and appropriate and necessary for the United Nations to ask what went wrong, and to take responsibility for its failings, and all of us as member states in that process.  But the United Nations did not perpetrate these crimes.  The FDLR and the Mayi-Mayi did, and it is they who ought to be held accountable and responsible.  It is they who deserve the scrutiny and the spotlight of the international community, as well as those that are there to protect innocents.  And the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has its responsibilities, and I think as we heard, they have some distance still to go in meeting them.  So with that, I will take a few questions.

——
Reporter: Given what you’ve come to a better understanding of what happened, do you feel like there are any flaws in what the UN did that need to be corrected there, and secondly, some names came up in the briefing, and is there going to be anything targeted at them, I mean two or three commanders names came up, is there going to be something—request to take sanctions or actions against them.

Ambassador Rice: First of all absolutely, as we heard from the Secretariat, there were flaws and failings in the UN’s response, and I will leave it to Assistant Secretary General Khare to characterize those as he did in the full Council.  But there’s no doubt that things could have been done differently and better and the aim will be to ensure that this is done differently and better in the future.  With respect to the individuals named, obviously we have now information that we didn’t have previously as to who might be responsible for these atrocities and rapes.  That’s information that the United States will want to look into further and take seriously as we determine who are the appropriate individuals to be subject to potential sanctions.

——-
Reporter:
Ambassador Rice, there was—SRSG Wallstrom spoke of the systematic and organized approach to this rape, that it was organized by individuals—these people have been named.  How clear is it that there is some sort of strategy behind all of this?  It has been going on for quite awhile, what is the U.S. sense, what is your intelligence on this, what’s going on there?

Ambassador Rice: That is very difficult frankly, to state with certainty, we have nothing to suggest that there isn’t a systematic aspect to this, but I think that given the prevalence and the frequency of sexual violence as a tool of conflict throughout the Congo, we also have to assume that while some of it, and perhaps this set of instances is systematic, others just seem to be random and frightenly routine and perpetrated by various different parties of this conflict, obviously most egregiously and most frequently by the FDLR and the Mayi-Mayi and the like, but not exclusively. So, these are among the deeper questions that in our view still remain to be asked and answered. I felt today that we learned a lot more about what transpired and what particular instances that we were most concerned about of late and that the Council focused on, but the underlying causes and motivation is something that we all, I think, need to understand better, and we are grateful to SRSG Wallstrom for her efforts to investigate and illuminate that long term aspect of it and the Council will want to follow up and not only immediate mechanisms, to prevent violence and to protect civilians, but also to understand the root causes.

——
Reporter:
The, Mr. Khare mentioned at least 10 rapes by the FARDC, by the Congolese Army in (inaudible) and South Kivu, I wonder if that, since MONUSCO works with the Government, is it easier to make sure that these perpetrators are in fact prosecuted and what steps is the Council going to take? And also, we understand that France called for some kind of consultation at the end on Darfur and the killings. Can you say what information was transmitted and the what the US thinks of the events in Zalingei Camp and also in Jebel Marra where the janjaweed apparently killed 50 people over the weekend?

Ambassador Rice: Well, we just heard a brief summary of what information is available to the Secretariat on the violence that occurred over the last several days in Darfur. Obviously we are gravely concerned about it, we are awaiting further information and so there is still much that is unknown. I will let Assistant Secretary General Khare, since he is here, give you any more detail. With respect to the FARDC, this has been an issue that the Council has been seized with for years and during our visit to Congo in 2009 we, the Council and the United States and others, focused on particular commanders who have been identified as perpetrators of violence against civilians. And we have been pressing the Government of Congo to take them out of command and hold them accountable, with some mixed results. Some of the five have been removed, some of them held, some of them under house arrest, and others have escaped. Focusing on the FARDC is not new, and indeed the conditions that the Secretariat and the Security Council have put on cooperation by MONUSCO and previously MONUC with the FARDC are designed to ensure that any units that have engaged in violence against civilians are not the beneficiaries of support and cooperation from MONUSCO.

——
Reporter:
Bosco still a part of the government, of the Government? He was one of the names indicted by the ICC?

Ambassador: No, not to my knowledge.

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