Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

8 October 2015

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Office of Internal Oversight Services

We’ll start out with an announcement on the recent indictments announced by the US Attorney’s Office:  In light of the recent indictments [later corrected to “accusations”] announced by US federal authorities, the Secretary-General is requesting that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) launch an audit of the interaction between the United Nations and the Global Sustainability Foundation and the Sun Kian Ip Group, and the use of any funds received from these two entities.

The Secretary-General is concerned about the serious nature of the allegations, which go to the heart of the work of the United Nations and its Member States.  The Secretary-General reaffirms that there will be no tolerance for any corruption at the United Nations or in the name of the United Nations.  He is committed to ensuring that funds received from such private entities were handled properly according to relevant UN rules and regulations.

**Deputy Secretary-General

Just to give you an update that the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, is in Jeddah today, and he is expected to be meeting with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Adel al-Jubeir, in a few minutes.  We’ll give you a readout as soon as we get one.

**Haiti

And back here, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, told the Security Council that the current elections would be the last ones where the level of assistance provided by the UN Mission in the country would be necessary.  She said that future elections should be administered by the Haitian authorities with targeted, limited technical and operational assistance from UN agencies and international partners.

Ms. Honoré also said that to allow for an orderly and sustainable transfer of these and other activities currently undertaken by the [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] (MINUSTAH), the Secretary-General had recommended the extension by one year of the Mission’s mandate.

She also said that she was confident that Haiti was now moving resolutely towards the renewal of its democratic institutions and the re-establishment of institutional balance, which are crucial for the consolidation of democracy and stability.  Her full statement is available, and she will be speaking to you at the stakeout when she is done with Council members and Council members are done with her.

**South Sudan

From South Sudan, a patrol from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was travelling yesterday from Juba to Wonduruba in Central Equatoria when it was stopped by Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers at a checkpoint.  UNMISS military and civilian personnel were ordered to exit the vehicle and were physically assaulted by the soldiers.  In view of the highly hostile attitude, the patrol turned back to Juba.

The UN Mission condemns such hostile acts and calls on the Government of South Sudan to investigate the incident immediately and hold those responsible accountable.  The Mission also urges the Government of South Sudan to reiterate clear orders to all concerned to give unfettered access to UN personnel, as per the Status of Forces Agreement signed between the UN and the Government of South Sudan.

**Libya

And regarding Libya, Bernardino León, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, is set to announce the members of a unity Government for Libya shortly.  Speaking to the press in Morocco late yesterday, he said the Government would be announced today.  Mr. León affirmed that the agreement among the Libyan parties is final, as was said clearly by the international community last Friday, and he predicted that it will be supported by a huge majority of Libyans.  We expect a statement later today about that.

**Middle East

And just to flag a statement today by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, who said today that he was extremely concerned about increased tensions and violence in Occupied Palestinian Territory, and stressed that calm can only be restored on the basis of respect for human rights.  In recent days, he said, four Israelis and five Palestinians have already lost their lives, while hundreds of others have been injured.

**Mexico

And also yesterday, the High Commissioner yesterday wrapped up his visit to Mexico, where he met with the President, Foreign Minister, and the head of the federal police, among other people.  Speaking to the press, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said that progress has been made towards building a solid human rights framework.

But, he said that many of the people he spoke to have painted a very bleak and consistent picture of a society wracked by high levels of insecurity, disappearances and killings, continued harassment of human rights defenders and journalists, as well as violence against women, and terrible abuses of migrants and refugees transiting through Mexico on their way to the United States.  The High Commissioner noted that Mexico has at the very least 26,000 missing people, with new cases occurring every day.  Full remarks are online.

**Afghanistan

And UNHCR’s [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] Member States today reaffirmed their commitment towards seeking a lasting solution for millions of Afghan refugees in a bid to end one of the longest displacement situations in history.  They pledged to support Afghanistan in creating the conditions necessary for refugees to return home.  More on UNHCR’s website.

**Ebola

On Ebola, just to flag that there were no new Ebola cases reported for the week that ended on Sunday, 4 October.  This is the first complete week with no new cases reported since March 2014 in the three impacted countries.  While the news is very encouraging, there are still a number of high-risk contacts.  Previous experience indicates that at the tail end of an Ebola outbreak, we may see weeks with zero transmission interspersed with some flare-ups.  Everyone involved in the response must remain vigilant.

**Appointment

And a senior personnel appointment to announce today:  the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Maman S. Sidikou of Niger as his new Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] (MONUSCO).  Mr. Sidikou succeeds Martin Kobler of Germany.  The Secretary-General is of course very grateful for Mr. Kobler’s important contribution and dedicated service for the past two years in supporting the implementation of the UN Mission’s mandate.

Mr. Sidikou brings vast experience to his new position, with more than 25 years in his country’s domestic and foreign services, the United Nations, as well as a senior African Union official.  He is currently serving as the African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  More information is available in my office.

**Honour Roll

And today we say a big “thank you” to our friends in Yaoundé as Cameroon has become the 129th Member State to pay its dues.  Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes, Stéphane, thank you.  In the Palestinian… occupied Palestinian territories, the United Nations human rights chief has issued a statement of great concern of the lives of Palestinians and others.  He… has the Secretary‑General taken this issue up himself with the Pal… the Israeli authorities on this issue?

Spokesman:  I think… the Secretary‑General had quite a long meeting with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu when he was in New York, and I know there have been contacts on the ground and at other various levels on this issue.  We've also taken note of the Israeli Government’s lifting of certain restrictions for Palestinians to enter Jerusalem, which is welcome.  And we would once again remind all parties to do the utmost to care for human lives and to return to the negotiating table.

Question:  Do you have any idea as to how many Palestinians are in Israeli jails?

Spokesman:  I don't have those numbers…

Question:  Is there a number…?

Spokesman:  I don't have those numbers with me.  Carol, then Matthew?

Question:  On the issue of the audit, it's just that yesterday the… there were questions about the office for South‑South Cooperation having received $1.5 million, and they were looking into it.  I wonder if you have an update about specifically that case.

Spokesman:  Yes.  I mean the South‑South office has been… I'll just share with you what they sent us that the… the foundation… the Sun Kian Ip Group foundation donation of $1.5 million together with support from national Governments, NGOs, UN foundations and others was used by the Office in keeping with its mandate to organize conferences on South‑South and triangular cooperation in the context of the post‑2015 development agenda in Bangladesh in May 2015 and in Macau in August 2015.  In addition, the donation is being used to support preparations for the ministerial South‑South Conference on Science and Technology and the Group of 77 Thematic Summit on South‑South Cooperation that will be held in 2016, programme support for the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty and for the operational costs of the South‑South global assets and technology exchange.  The disbursement of funding on these initiatives was carried out in full compliance with UN standards and guidelines.  All disbursed funds were tracked and accounted for, and there's no evidence that any funds received by the Office of South‑South Cooperation were misdirected or misappropriated.  However, at the director's request… and I think as I had mentioned there is a new director, whose first day at work was actually on Monday… all of the elements of the [United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation’s] partnership with the Sun Kian Ip Group were currently under review.  And I can share with you what I've just read out, as well.  Go ahead.

Question:  No, but just to follow up — tracking the funds, organizing conferences, I mean, isn't it questionable to do this with money from a real-estate developer?

Spokesman:  Well, I think… you know, obviously, as I said, they're looking at these things.  The money was accepted from a foundation into the Office, I think, as if taken other monies from other foundations and is being used in accordance with its mandate.  I can put you in touch with the South‑South office, and they could probably answer further questions.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I just want to say on that, I did e-mail them yesterday with questions I have not received any response to yet, just for the record.  But, what I wanted to ask you is, it seems like he's asking OIOS to look at these two foundations, but in the indictment, there's direct information about the Secretariat… [John] Ashe and [Francis] Lorenzo dealing directly with the Secretariat.  And I'm referring to the GA [General Assembly] document that was revised for technical reasons to add in the name of the Macau real estate company.  And it says that Ashe and Lorenzo spoke to UN official number one, who, in turn, produced a document that said “revised for technical” reasons with the name of the real estate company into it.  So, this was not an interaction with either foundation.  It was an interaction directly with the Secretariat.  I wanted to know, this has been out for a couple days.  Who in the Secretariat put in the real estate company and called it a technical change?  That's one example.

Spokesman:  I don't have anything further to say about that, but obviously, in his… Secretariat staff often instructed by the office of the… by relevant Member States when they're producing sponsoring resolutions to put in the text, that's what the Secretariat does.  Nothing was done at the behest of… nothing was done by UN staff.  It was done at the request of Member States.

Question:  No, but I guess what happened here is, when you read paragraphs 40 and around there in the indictment, the companies were paying Ashe to obtain this official document, and once the number was assigned, document A/66/758, then they called somebody in the UN staff and said, can you reissue it with the name of a real estate company into it?  Which, i.e., it seems like, in the first instance, it wouldn't have gotten a number if it had the name of a company in it.  So, it's a very tricky business…

Spokesman:  Listen, I think those… what is contained in UN documents produced by Member States is for Member States to decide.

Correspondent:  And I want to ask you, there's another… because… is this the full… I wanted to ask you about this South‑South Awards for which DPI [Department of Public Information] sent out a press release as if it were a UN thing…

Spokesman:  I think it was a mistake.

Question:  Okay.  That involved Mr. Lorenzo, now indicted, et cetera, and I wanted to know, what was the relationship of the UN to that event?  I know that the head of DPI attended.  I know that the brochure that they put out has an enormous Ban Ki‑moon, and you know, quote in it.  What is… can you describe… and why this entity is not among the entities that you're naming will be looked at by OIOS, given that Mr. Lorenzo was the president of it and had 12 million… you know, a lot of money?

Spokesman:  South‑South was a news organization.  This was an event that the Secretaries‑General have sent messages to, and I have nothing to add on it.

Correspondent:  Just… I… they say awards is different than news.  To defend the news people, they say this is a separate entity.

Spokesman:  Matthew, I'll come back to you.  Yes?

Question:  I have two questions.  Sorry.  Thank you.  Two questions.  One, why the change of course since yesterday?  Why did the Secretary‑General decide to launch an independent investigation?  Has anything changed?  Did you receive new information?  Secondly, Global Compact says that it expelled the Sun Kian Group in April because of lack of transparency and report… failure to produce a report for two years.  So, if Global Compact has expelled them because they're not transparent, then why does South‑South Cooperation accept $1.5 million from them?  Is there no communication between the two?

Spokesman:  I think, the way I read the reasoning for the Global Compact is that they failed to comply with the reporting rules.  That's the way I read, that they didn't file the reporting rules they're supposed to send.  As for questions for… regarding UN South‑South, I think you need to address it to them.  On your… on your first point, I think…

Question:  And you're not aware whether South‑South [inaudible]…?

Spokesman:  That's a question you have to address to them.  On your first point, which I'm answering last, I think this is a sign of the Secretary‑General's concern about the serious nature of the allegations.  This is something that has been obviously under discussion for the last 24 hours or so, and I think it's an important step… an important sign of the Secretary‑General's interest in this issue.  Mr. Avni?  Sorry.  Then Nizar.  You've been…

Question:  Couple of questions.  First of all, to follow up on that Global Compact reporting issue, is there any way for the Global Compact to actually verify reports?  I understand that this… that Ng [Lap Seng] didn't… that group didn't file reports, but when they do, are they being verified?  How much are they being verified?  And then I have a couple questions after that.

Spokesman:  Again, you need to ask the question of the Global Compact on what their practices are.  But, my understanding is that it is a self‑reporting mechanism.

Question:  Right.  And two more questions regarding the Office of the PGA [President of the General Assembly].  A, is there… are there any UN staffers working in that office?

Spokesman:  Yes.  I mean, there… as part of its operations, the UN… the PGA's office is given UN staff.  Staff are seconded to it.  So, that's the presence of UN staff.  One thing… but go ahead.  I'll answer your third question.

Question:  And just a related question.  Does the UN pay for the PGA travels?

Spokesman:  No.  The… short answer is no.  The longer answer is…

Question:  Is yes?

Spokesman:  The longer answer is that's a question for Dan Thomas on the workings of the PGA's office.  What I will add, and what I should have stressed yesterday and we need to make clearer moving forwards, is all the funds in PGA's accounts, trust funds and others, are subject to UN financial rules and regulations, and therefore, subject to internal audits by OIOS and Article 7, which provides for external audit by the Board of Auditors.  Just before the briefing, the comptroller's office sent me a whole batch of documents, which I will not print, but share with you, which include audits of the trust funds and information about the financial health of…

Correspondent:  So, wait.  So, what we said yesterday, which is my question originally, was, why OIOS was caught by surprise and why the UN wasn't aware of any shenanigans in Ashe's office.

Spokesman:  Listen, I think the audits look at the way the funds are spent and whether the funds are handled properly.  Whatever Mr. Ashe and others may have done or are accused of doing seems to be outside of the realm of… that realm.  So, the audits are one thing.  The accounts are audited.  Nizar?

Question:  Given that Secretary‑General is keen on transparency and everything should be clear for everybody, would he call for the release or at least to make the documents regarding weapons of mass destruction and what happened in Iraq available, since they are closed for 60 years?

Spokesman:  I'm not sure I'm fully briefed on what you're talking about, but I… yes, I would agree with the premise of your question, that the Secretary‑General is for transparency and accountability.

Question:  So… just another thing.  Why were they in the first place, I mean, locked for 60 years?  The documents regarding…

Spokesman:  Are you talking about the UNMOVIC [United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] documents?

Correspondent:  Yeah, yeah. 

Spokesman:  I will have to go back to the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Question:  I have another question regarding Saudi Arabia and the visit of Mr. Eliasson.  Is he discussing Yemen there or what?

 

Spokesman:  Yes, he is discussing Yemen and Syria, and I'm sure he will raise the issue of the reports of a large amount of people having been killed in an aerial bombing at a wedding in Yemen, I believe, yesterday.  As soon as we get a readout, we will share that with you.

Question:  Is Mr. [Ismail] Ould Cheikh Ahmed with him… accompanying him?

Spokesman:  He is not.  He's going… he's on his way to the region.  I can give… I don't have it off the top of my head, but he's on his way to the region.  Cara and then Evelyn?

Question:  Thanks.  Is this audit also going to look at the South‑South steering committee for sustainable development and the international organization for South‑South Cooperation, since Ashe is listed as Chairman of one and Lorenzo is listed as President of the other?

Spokesman:  It will look at… the initial scope is to look at the two… the relationship between the UN and the two foundations I mentioned.  Evelyn?

Question:  Yes, a couple questions.  First of all, the audits are limited to what, that you just spoke about?  And secondly, I'm getting confused.  Is there a difference between the South‑South cooperation and the South‑South office at the UN?

Spokesman:  There is.  The word South‑South is not trademarked.  So, I think a lot of people and entities are using the word South‑South, and that does create quite a bit of confusion.  There is an office in the United Nations system for South‑South cooperation which was created, if my memory serves me right, in the 1970s, though I wasn't here.  It is created by the General Assembly, and it is administered by UNDP [United Nations Development Programme].  So, that's what we're… when people… when we refer to the UN Office of South‑South Cooperation, that's what we refer to.  There are a lot of the other entities that are not UN entities that use the word South‑South.

Question:  And…  I'm sorry.  What is South‑South cooperation?

Spokesman:  South‑South cooperation is development cooperation between countries of the South.

Correspondent:  And one more thing.  In the statement, you mention “indictment”; it's not an indictment.  It's an accusation.  It's a charge.

Spokesman:  Charge, yes, I'm sorry.  I'm definitely not a lawyer. [The statement was later corrected; see above.]  Oleg?

Question:  Stéphane, yesterday, you announced the visit of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to region.  Can you please elaborate which countries he's going to visit?  Where he’s going to be based?

Spokesman:  He will go to… he will be in Saudi Arabia.  He will be in the UAE [United Arab Emirates].  He will also be in Moscow, which is not in the region, but an important partner in the Yemen talks.  So, that's what I can share with you.

Question:  Moscow or Muscat?

Spokesman:  Moscow, sorry, Russia.

Question:  And no stop at Muscat?

Spokesman:  Not planned as of… not planned as of now.  Let's go for round two.  Masood, then Carole?

Question:  Okay.  Yeah.  Stéphane, about this so‑called agreement between the Houthis and the Government of Mr. [Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi, is there… is that a very tentative truce?  Which you welcomed yesterday.  Is that tentative truce?

Spokesman:  It is not… it is an agreement on the political process, and that's why Mr. Ismail is going to the region to try to focus on a venue and a date to bring the parties together.  Unfortunately, we have not seen any pause in the fighting, as witnessed just late yesterday with this horrendous killing of people at the wedding party.

Question:  So, there's no prospect of sustaining peace at this point in time?

Spokesman:  Well, I didn't say that.  I think there is a prospect of getting the parties around the table, and we would obviously continue to call for the parties to halt the fighting.  Ms. Landry, and then we'll…

Question:  Stéphane, I had a question on Western Sahara.  We heard the Foreign Minister say that the Secretary‑General is planning a visit there.  I know you're going to tell me that you have nothing to announce today, but what can you say in general whether this prospect is being discussed and what it might change?

Spokesman:  I think you've answered the question.  We don't announce… when we… trips happen when we've announced them.  If there is a trip to that region, I will announce it from here.  Mr. Lee… oh, sorry.  Go ahead?

Question:  You just mentioned the second wedding strike.  Can you give any more detail on that?

Spokesman:  No, we've seen the reports.  I know this is an issue that the Deputy Secretary‑General will raise with the Foreign Minister and hopefully we'll have a statement shortly this afternoon.

Question:  On the same subject, please, why is he meeting this Foreign Minister?  Because he's not executive power.  Why is he not meeting, for example, Mohammed bin Salman, who is the second in command?

Spokesman:  He made… the Deputy Secretary‑General may have other meetings, but obviously, the Foreign Minister is a very important player and has a very important role, and I think it's only normal for the Deputy Secretary‑General to meet with him.

Question:  On this situation in Jerusalem, obviously, the Secretary‑General welcomed the lifting of some restrictions.  However, anyone who is under 50 is not allowed to go to al‑Aqsa Mosque for prayers tomorrow.  Another thing, since the incinerating of Dawabsha family, there… nobody has been… although the people who are culprits for that are known, no one was brought to justice yet.  Yesterday, a lady who was veiled, she struggled with settler for when he tried to lift her veil and when she resisted, she was shot dead.  Would the Secretary‑General call for investigation into both cases?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General would want to see every case of violence and especially when there's a death of a civilian fully investigated and that the perpetrators would face justice.  Mr. Lee and then Go?

Question:  Questions on Burundi and DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo].  But two follow‑ups to things that you said.  You'd said that there are… audits are performed of PGA accounts, and in the indictment, there are repeated references to John Ashe saying put the money in my PGA account, and then it says the money was immediately removed to his personal account.  So, are you… I guess I want… maybe from the podium you can't say it, but are these… these…?

Spokesman:  I would describe… I… you know, I can't comment and analyse what is in the document released by the US federal authorities.  They may use different terminology, and I don't… I can't comment on that.  What I can share with you, and we'll put those links up, are the documents provided to me by the comptroller's office, which have the audits of those accounts.

Question:  And yesterday I'd asked you about the overlap between Mr. John Ashe's staff and Mr. [Mogen] Lykketoft's staff.  And without… there are many people… they work in the UN system.  They work on thematic issues.  That's understood.  But, the Chief of Staff of Mr. Ashe is working for Mr. Lykketoft, and she's named repeatedly in the indictment as going on trips to Macau, et cetera.  And so, I wonder, is this… it was described here that this is an entirely different office because it's a new PGA, but is it a new office, and what can you say to that?

Spokesman:  I think you should ask the President of the General Assembly.  Mr. Go?

Question:  Thank you.  Also on this scandal, could you tell us if there were any approach by the Attorney's Office since yesterday?

Spokesman:  No.  I checked five minutes ago.

Question:  Also, the Attorney's Office said couple days ago that they will widen the range of investigation, and there may be more arrests in the coming… in the future.  Can I just have your comment on that?

Spokesman:  As I've said, we've had no contacts with the US Attorney's Office.  Mr. Lynch?

Question:  I have a question on the OIOS audit.  Generally, there's a finding of wrongdoing [inaudible] investigation [inaudible] regular audit.  Is there any reason why OIOS isn't doing more of a wrongdoing investigation?

Spokesman:  I think what we're looking at is the contact and the flows of money between the UN and the two foundations.  That's the initial step.  Obviously, if there's wrongdoing found, then that will trigger other steps.  But, this is an initial step.

Question:  Can you give me just a follow‑up… an update on sort of where… I mean, we've been talking before about sort of the state of the investigations division.  You have… the head of OIOS has left.  You haven't found a replacement.

Spokesman:  No, we have… we did…

Question:  Oh, you have…?

Spokesman:  We have a replacement.  We announced it.

Question:  But, what sort of capacity do you have to do… do you have to conduct…?

Spokesman:  I think we have… I think this falls under the audit hat of OIOS.  They are fully staffed and fully capable of doing a good job.

Question:  Is the investigation side fully staffed?  Or is it…

Spokesman:  I have no update, but I have… I have no indication that… that… I have no update on that.  Cara and then we'll…

Question:  Thanks.  Who did the Global Sustainability Foundation give money to at the UN and how much?  And also why did the former head of the UN Office on South‑South Cooperation leave last month?

Spokesman:  My understanding is that he reached retirement age.  As for your first question, I can't answer that from here.  Masood and then we'll go back to the right.

Question:  Yes, Stéphane.  I think, at the end of September, Pakistan's ambassador submitted three dossiers to Susana Malcorra, the Secretary‑General's Chef de Cabinet, on the violations by the Indian… Indians.  Now, those dossiers, what is it that United Nations is going to do with those dossiers?  Is it just going to file it?  Is there going to be inquiry?  Where does it stand?

Spokesman:  I'll try to get an update.  I don't have anything right now.  Just… press the button on the side.  There you go.  No.  We'll give you a microphone class after this.  There you go.

Question:  There we go.  If Mr. Ng is convicted, will the UN return the $1.5 million or how… what…?

Spokesman:  That's a question to ask the office of South‑South cooperation as they receive the money.

Question:  One more question.  Is there any talk or any plans to change or revise the way that the UN operates and partners with foundations and NGOs and, the way it receives money?

Spokesman:  Well, obviously, those are things we always look at.  Partner NGOs, foundations, the private sector are critical partners for the United Nations in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.  In the implementation of our goals, we would not want one or two cases to impact our ability to work with the private sector or with foundations.  We have an office for partnerships.  I'm… and I think we, obviously… we can always do better, do more due diligence, but unfortunately, some things don't manifest themselves when you're doing due diligence.  Mr. Avni, then Mr. Lee?

Question:  In the wake of the procurement problems at the time, allegations of wrongdoing, there was… a special task force was formed to investigate that.  Is there any thinking in the Secretariat of creating a similar task force?  By the way, that task force was disbanded, defunded and so on and so forth.  Is there any way to do something like that now in light of these allegations?

Spokesman:  You know, I think the… the steps we announced today were initial steps.  I think we also have to assess what the scope of the issue is.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  A lot more questions about this that, I guess, I'm going to ask tomorrow, but one I have to ask is, can you confirm or deny that the UN was prepared to offer John Ashe the ASG [Assistant Secretary-General] for Partnerships position?

Spokesman:  The rule for appointments is much like the rule for travels.  Unless it's announced, it's not official.  I'm not going to comment on what was considered or not considered.

Question:  Okay.  I want to ask you, on DRC, I… I learned yesterday that there was a meeting of DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and DFS [Department of Field Support] concerning the alleged death of a civilian outside Pinga by helicopter gunships run by the Force Intervention Brigade, 76 rockets, 400 rounds of ammunition, and that, ultimately, it was determined that the civilian… there was a gun near enough the civilian to justify it.  But, I'd like to know, when are events like this reported, either to the Security Council or to… I don't know… OIOS?  Can you confirm the incident and what's DPKO's…

Spokesman:  It was report… it was reported in the weekly press conference… it was referred to in the weekly press conference by the mission yesterday.  So it was very much reported publicly.  What the mission reports is that it conducted an operation on Monday, 5 October, in Musanga and Minova villages in Walikalé territory, targeting armed groups operating in the area.  A mission [comprising] MONUSCO officials and local community leaders was on the ground yesterday and flew over the villages.  The team also visited the hospital in Pinga.  The assessment concluded that one combatant was killed.  The team also collected abandoned weapons from the area.  Based on this assessment, the Mission in the DRC does not believe that reports that five civilians were killed are accurate.  The Mission clarifies that the target was armed combatants and that the mission was conducted in conformity with its mandate and rules of engagement.  MONUSCO officials are in contact with Congolese authorities at the highest level in Kinshasa and Goma on this issue.

Question:  What would you say to those within DPKO and DFS that believe it's akin to a case of basically dropping a gun once a suspect is killed, that the weapons had nothing to do with the person who was killed?

 

Spokesman:  Matthew, I was not invited to the meeting that you obviously know about.  I can only report on what the Mission is saying publicly.  That’s it.

Question:  Here's another meeting.  I wanted to ask you about Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous, as head of DPKO, met with the Vice-President of Burundi on 1 October and it's my understanding that he gave them a grace period to bring in the appropriate equipment to the MINUSCA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic] mission in Central African Republic, i.e., until June 2016, extending a previous grace period that ended 30 September.  Given the importance of protecting civilians in [the Central African Republic] in the run-up to the elections, what justifies giving a further extension and him taking a “pragmatic approach” to human rights in Burundi?

Spokesman:  I can't confirm that that was the conclusion.

Question:  Was there a meeting…?

Spokesman:  If I find out, I will let you know.  Oleg, then we'll go to the left.

Question:  Stéphane, I hate to repeat somebody, but the results of this audit that you announced just now, are they going to be made public?  And are they going to be presented to the US authorities?

Spokesman:  They will be done according to OIOS rules, which is under the authority of the USG [Under-Secretary-General] of OIOS to make those reports public.

Question:  [Inaudible]?

Spokesman:  If it's public, it's public.  Anna, did you have a question?  No?  Thank you.  Have great day.

For information media. Not an official record.