Aid Workers treating Rape Victims Attacked:
There is a history here:
"While Ms. Wallstrom said that the UN can't protect women in all conflict zones, it seems fair to ask why, while spending $1 billion, the UN can't protect women from mass multi-day rape 20 minutes from a UN peacekeeping base. Who will be held accountable? Those who looked away or those who dissembled after the fact? Why not both?"
Investigate this yourself.
See what you can find.
write a letter.
ask a question.
do these things keep happening--
where is the energy in the media to make change for good happen?
This is the emergency.
This is the slaughter that is taking place now.
Cry out-racism, sexism, anything you want.
In the End, it is Abuse of Power.
Who is in charge?
Who is allowing this?
Who is behind the greed or lust for power or lust for violence that needs to be exposed?
Where are the journalists?
Where are our media??
Start putting this on 24/7.
Stop repeating every little snippy thing our politicians are spitting at each other, which "Celebrities" are drinking too much, what a bunch of sportscasters wear under their pants.
Fu'Crying out loud
U.N. raises Congo rape toll to 240
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- More than 240 women, children and infants may have been raped when rebel forces seized a town in the Congo, a U.N. report said.
A spokesman for the United Nations said last month that a human rights team found that more than 150 women were gang-raped in late July and early August by members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, and a local militia called Mai-Mai.
The United Nations raised the number of people raped by FDLR and Mai-Mai fighters to 240, adding some of those raped were infants, the BBC reports.
U.N. peacekeeping forces in the area have been supporting an effort to beat the FDLR, who are linked to the Rwandan genocides in 1994.
The U.N. Security Council in the wake of the initial reports had an emergency session and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later sent a senior representative to the area to investigate.
The Security Council pressed the peacekeeping force in the area for not responding to the rape allegations. The force, however, said it was unaware of the rapes until more than a week after the atrocities despite being positioned around 20 miles from the Congolese village.
Leaders in the FDLR said their force weren't involved in the attacks.
Rebels attack aid workers treating Congo rape victims
Gunmen in eastern Congo fired on a private plane carrying international aid workers who escaped into the forest yesterday, the regional director of International Medical Corps (IMC) said.
A UN official said the aid workers were later rescued by peacekeepers. He said a Congolese soldier and two militiamen were killed in the firefight. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to reporters. IMC officials could not be immediately reached to confirm the rescue.
IMC regional director, Miel Hendrickson, said earlier that the endangered staff of the Los Angeles-based medical aid group were three Americans and one Georgian who were on the aircraft, and two Congolese staff who were at the landing strip outside Walikale mining town when the shooting started.
Mr Hendrickson said the attack comes a few weeks after a Russian pilot was kidnapped at Walikale airport. The whereabouts of the foreigner who piloted the plane were not immediately clear.
The aid workers are in a team treating scores of people raped in rebel attacks between 30 July and 4 August in villages about 40 miles from Walikale.
Mr Hendrickson said the number of people treated for rape in those attacks has risen to 242 from 192 last week. More and more survivors who had fled into dense forest have been coming out of hiding each day – some women completely naked, according to aid workers. The attacks took place within miles of a UN peacekeeping camp for about 80 Indian soldiers, and thousands of Congolese troops based at Walikale, a 90-minute drive from the villages, raising questions about why nothing was done. Those raped include four baby boys, one just a month old, and a great great-grandmother who was said to be 110 years old, according to civil society leader Charles Masudi Kisa.
Survivors have said their attackers were from the FDLR rebel group led by perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide who fled across the border to Congo in 1994 and have been terrorising the population in eastern Congo ever since, along with Congolese Mai-Mai militia. The Rwandan rebel group has denied the reports.
On Tuesday, the UN envoy in charge of sexual violence in conflict urged Congo's government to prosecute the perpetrators, and also warned leaders of the rebel and militia groups that they could be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court because widespread and systemic sexual violence can constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The U.N. Sex Scandal
From the January 3 / January 10, 2005 issue: Exploitation, abuse, and other humanitarian efforts.
LAST MONTH A CLASSIFIED UNITED Nations report prompted Secretary General Kofi Annan to admit that U.N. peacekeepers and staff have sexually abused or exploited war refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The worst of the 150 or so allegations of misconduct--some of them captured on videotape--include pedophilia, rape, and prostitution. While a U.N. investigation into the scandal continues, the organization has just suspended two more peacekeepers in neighboring Burundi over similar charges. The revelations come three years after another U.N. report found "widespread" evidence of sexual abuse of West African refugees.
"The issue with the U.N. is that peacekeeping operations unfortunately seem to be doing the same thing that other militaries do," Gita Sahgal of Amnesty International told the Christian Science Monitor. "Even the guardians have to be guarded." That's not far off the mark. Various U.N. reports and interviews with humanitarian groups suggest that international peacekeeping missions are creating a predatory sexual culture among vulnerable refugees--from relief workers who demand sexual favors in exchange for food to U.N. troops who rape women at gunpoint.
Allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct by U.N. staff stretch back at least a decade, to operations in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. A 2001 report, released by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children, found that sexual violence against refugees in West Africa was endemic (though some of its findings were denied by a subsequent U.N. team). A year later a coalition of religious organizations sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell urging the United States to send more human rights monitors into Congo. The U.N. then introduced a "code of conduct" to help prevent future abuses, including prohibitions against sexual activity between staff and children and the exchange of money or food for sex.
On Congo Rapes, UN Admits 240 Victims, Dodges Meece Inaccuracies, Wallstrom Inaction
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 1 -- As the UN tries to slow down or even bury the story of its inaction on the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, the questions keep on coming and the admissions, drip by drip. But belatedly updated victim numbers can't change the inaccurate statements of MONUSCO chief Roger Meece, nor the inaction of Margot Wallstrome, UN envoy on Sexual Violence and Conflict.
On Wednesday at the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked about
Inner City Press: what the UN knew and when, saying that on 30 July in that e-mail it mentioned a rape in the village of Mpofi, and also a 10 August e-mail mentioning already 25 rapes. These dates are inconsistent, to put it mildly, with what Mr. Meece said to us from the video screen. What are the ramifications? Does the UN deny this... or are we missing something in terms of the inaccuracies?
Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq: As far as that goes, as you’re aware, when the Secretary-General learned of these mass rapes, what he did from our side was to immediately dispatch Atul Khare, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is there right now. We just mentioned what his travels in the area are. He, among other things, was sent there specifically to look into the mass rapes that occurred in the Walikale area. He’ll also look at our response and how we responded to it. He’s there now collecting information and we will see what his evaluation is of that situation when he returns. We expect him back next week and we expect him to report back to the Secretary-General, and also, by the way, to the Security Council, although, of course, their schedule for the month is still being determined.
Inner City Press: But I remember Martin [Nesirky] saying from this podium that here at the Secretariat in New York your office was looking into this 30 July e-mail to find what it was and what it said. Now, the New York Times says a rape occurred. I’m just wondering, has your office found that e-mail? And totally outside of Mr. Khare’s time schedule, what does it mean it mean about what Mr. Meece told us?
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, we have been looking into that. At this stage, what I would wait for is to see what information Mr. Khare, as the person who is there on the ground, because he is there, he is accumulating data and he will report back. I think we’ll leave it until then. But, yes, we’ve been looking into this and certainly we’re trying to find what the providence of this particular e-mail is.
Inner City Press: Just one more on this. The International Medical Corps now says that the number of women treated in this mass rape incident, they’ve raised their number from 192 to 242. I’m just wondering if the UN, which initially had this 154 number, do you dispute those numbers? Or is the UN just shutting down its communications until 7 September?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have for you at this stage any higher number beyond what we’ve given. However, as our presence in that area grows and as there’s been more of a restoration of peace to various areas, freeing up people to feel like they can speak, we’re trying to get more information about what’s going on. So we may find out more information about other attacks. So we would update the numbers accordingly once we get that. But right now at this stage what we’re doing is we’re spreading out into various communities. We’re looking into different reports and we’ll try and see what further information we have.
[The Spokesperson added later that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has put the number of rape victims at higher than 240, with more cases being reported.]
In fact, after the above transcribed questions, the UN released not only an updated number of victims, but a whole press release, in French which a tri-lingual colleague in New York has helpfully translated, below.
Unofficial translation from French
Today, MONUSCO in partnership with the DRC government, has continued to review its activities on the ground in order to better protect the civilian population, while conforming to its mandate.
MONUSCO launched today operation "Shop Window" in the areas of Pinga, Kibua, and Walikale, aimed at reassuring the population and demonstrating its efforts to use all available resources to fulfill its mandate to protect.
This operation follows the observation of increased activities of armed groups in the areas of Walikale and Masisi, who have committed a number of human rights violations and fostered insecurity amongst the civilian population.
Indeed, after the rapes of over 240 victims in Kibua, MONUSCO received additional information concerning other acts that have occurred in Mubi and in the area surrounding Pinga.
Mubi is an area located approximately 36km northwest of Walikale on the axis of Walikale-Kisangani. On August 17, the North Kivu Brigade, MONUSCO police and the joint UNHCR bureau reported clashes between the FDLR and the Mai-Mai Sheka (that occurred) on August 16 and 17 and that resulted in the pillage of several homes, the detention of at least 50 people for looting, and the deaths of 2 FARDC and 7 wounded.
On August 25, "Heal Africa" informed MONUSCO of the 8 rape victims who sought medical attention in their center in Bilobilo. The office of human rights contacted the NGO IMC the same day for additional information. That evening, they received information of the release of all those who had been previously detained. On August 28, the IMC informed MONUSCO that according "Heal Africa" they had 11 rape victims in their center in Bilibilo, but that the number of victims could increase.
Pinga is located 10 km northeast of Masisi. Based on the report from an interpreter who received information from an NGO, military observers made another report on August 18. A team was sent to Pinga on August 30 to verify the information. As a result, they confirmed that 16 rapes had occurred in the area over a period of two weeks: 2 in Bushimo on August 12 and 14---13 in Chuho on August 17 and 1 in Burai.
A patrol was dispatched to each of these locations to gather information and secure the areas. A meeting was set up with the 121st brigade that reinforced (the patrol's) presence and opened up an investigation. One suspect has already been apprehended.
Helicopter patrols in these areas have also been set up and MONUSCO troops have already received instructions concerning their future conduct. On August 30, a joint protection team was sent to Walikale and received a list the names of approximately 40 rape victims.
But what about the inaccurate statements by Roger Meece? And the inaction by Margot Wallstrom? What about accountability? Watch this site.
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On Congo Rapes, UN Inaction & Dissembling Stretches to Wallstrom, Meece, Higher
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- Of the mass rapes in Eastern Congo which occurred from July 30 through August 4, the UN's Special Representative on Sexual Violence and Conflict Margot Wallstrom only learn on “August 21-22 through emerging media sources,” Wallstrom told the Press on Tuesday. Video here, from Minute 1:50.
Inner City Press asked what steps she had taken, in her six months on the job, to try to ensure that UN peacekeeping missions like MONUSCO in the Congo actually inform her of mass rape, rather than leaving her to find out about in in the newspapers ten days after MONUSCO admits knowing of it. Video here, from Minute 14:19.
Ms. Wallstrom, apparently realizing how bad it looked to learn only from the media, changed her story and said “not the newspaper,” she had “reports and calls one by one.” Videohere, from Minute 18:19.
Beyond Ms. Wallstrom's shifting and self serving story, one call she did receive was from the Secretary General, calling her into action from where she was in Europe. Still, as of August 31 she had not gone to the Congo after the rape story broke, instead sending an underling from the office she has barely staffed in six months.
She acknowledged that only four of ten posts have been filled; she said there was only been an office since June. She blamed this on the UN budget process.
Rather than offer a critique of the UN peacekeepers' inaction -- it has now been shown that the UN knew of at least one of the rapes on July 30, and of at least 25 by August 10 -- Ms. Wallstrom chided the media to keep the focus on the rapists.
Inner City Press asked about known rapists still serving in the FARCD Congolese army: Bosco Ntaganda, an FARDC commander who walks around Goma at will, Colonel Zimulinda / Zimurinda, who the UN worked with even after UN expert Philip Alston named him as responsible for 50 rapes, and ex-warlord and kidnapper and murderer of UN peacekeepers Peter Kerim, made a colonel in the FARDC. Video here, from Minute 35:15.
In response, Wallstrom lamented that some in the FARDC are “people straight from the forest.” But will her office call for their arrest and apprehension? Video here, from Minute 37:22. Wallstrom seemed to say yes. We'll see.
Regarding Wallstrom's "straight outta the forest" comment, an African UN official tells Inner City Press that Wallstrom's "language" is causing consternation. Ironically, butquintessentially UN, Wallstrom may face accountability if at all not for her inaction, but for her language.
Footnote: something to be established is whether Wallstrom even gave her cell phone number to Roger Meece and other peacekeeping officials. To be informed of mass rape known to UN peacekeepers does not require the full staff of ten.
While Ms. Wallstrom said that the UN can't protect women in all conflict zones, it seems fair to ask why, while spending $1 billion, the UN can't protect women from mass multi-day rape 20 minutes from a UN peacekeeping base. Who will be held accountable? Those who looked away or those who dissembled after the fact? Why not both? To be continued.
* * *Part two: Live interview