01/03/2011 19:57:45
UN : mistake of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
In accusing Belarus of sending three attack helicopters to Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made a mistake, several Security Council Ambassadors told Inner City Press on Monday night.
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"I don't know where Ban gets this stuff", one Ambassador told Inner City Press at the End of Council Presidency reception at the Brazilian Permanent Representative's residence on 79th Strreet in Manhattan.

"He better have the facts before he accuses a member states," another said. Ban had called for an emergency Council meeting, which was denied. The Sanctions Committee met, and concluded that evidence did not exist.

Ban's UN News Service took down and changed its story; a publication of Ban's remarks to the Holocaust Museum in Washington Monday afternoon was also taken down. In Cote d'Ivoire itself, a document described as UN orders to shoot at civilians was circulated. It is all breaking down for Ban, a third Ambassador said, shaking his head.

The joke at the reception was that a no fly zone over Libya should be enforced by Ban's "imaginary" helicopters from Belarus.

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if the Ukrainian helicopters that the Security Council ordered in December, on Ban's urgent request, had yet arrived. He said he would check and get back, but nine hours later there was no answer.

From the UN's noon briefing transcript of Monday

Question: Martin, is there anything further you can tell us about the substantiation of the reports of attack helicopters from Belarus going into Côte d'Ivoire, and where is the source of information? What source of information did the Secretary-General rely upon to put out the statement that he did on his concern about that?

Spokesperson: Well, what I can tell you is that the Group of Experts established by the Security Council to monitor the arms embargo against Côte d'Ivoire reported that it had received information that three attack helicopters and related equipment were going to be delivered to the forces loyal to Mr. [Laurent] Gbagbo. That’s what I can tell you on that. Yeah?

Question: Well, just to follow up: Did he express, by the nature of the information, was this intelligence from other Governments…?

Spokesperson: I don’t think I am in a position to give you further details on that particular aspect of it. But what I can tell you is that a team made up of members of this Group of Experts and a UNOCI [United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire] officer from the UN Mission’s Embargo Cell travelled to the airport that we have been talking about, but was unable to verify the information and indeed was forced to withdraw. And despite the severe restrictions on the Mission's freedom of movement, the Mission continues to monitor activities at the airport in order to verify these reports.

Question: Just one more thing, if you will. Do we know that it’s only some of the parts put together of these helicopters have arrived, or all the components have arrived? The process — what do we know of what sort of stage it is in?

Spokesperson: Well, at the moment as I say, the Mission is continuing to monitor activities at the airport in order to verify these reports. And as I have said, the Group of Experts, which was established by the Security Council to monitor this embargo, had reported that it had received information that these three attack helicopters and related equipment were going to be delivered. So that is where we are at the moment. So, further questions. Yes, Masood? And them I’ll come to… Matthew, is this a follow-up on this topic?

Inner City Press: One quick follow-up, yeah. I just wanted to know… there are these reports of the UNOCI peacekeepers saying that they were forced to return fire… I guess I just wanted to know what is the status of that reported fighting between supporters of Gbagbo and UNOCI, what the rule… some would question, I guess, what can you say about that? It seems like a big development.

Spokesperson: There have been a number of developments as you know, in recent days, simply because there has been a turn in the nature of the fighting on the ground, as you will have seen and heard. The Secretary-General has made clear his concern about the threats that have been made again and repeatedly to Mission members who are carrying out a Security Council-mandated role in Côte d'Ivoire. And there have been incidents, including where police, UN police or peacekeepers have been forced to fire into the air. If we have more details on that, then I would be able to let you know.

Inner City Press: And are those helicopters — those Ukrainian, I guess they are Ukrainian — helicopters from UNMIL [United Nations Mission in Liberia], have they now arrived, the ones that were supposed to support UNOCI?

Spokesperson: Let me check, let me check on that. I think there was some movement, but let me check.

Nine hours later, there were no answers, only complaints against Ban by Security Council member diplomats. Watch this site.

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As Ban Ki-moon Alleges 3 Copters from Belarus for Gbagbo, Silent on 3 from Ukraine, Says Only Fired in the Air

Matthew Russell Lee

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