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As EU Tells ICP UN To Go Beyond Bangui, UN Murky on Humanitarian Role

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 – When the European Union's Kristalina Georgieva and the UN's Valerie Amos went to the Central African Republic, at issue was whether the UN will modify its security ruling which has resulted in no UN international staff outside of the capital, Bangui.

Inner City Press asked at the UN noon briefing about it, and was told that the UN does not make its security determinations based on what NGOs like Medecins Sans Frontieres say. (Some say the UN lets governments influence and downgrade its security alerts, such as in Algiers.)

So the Free UN Coalition for Access, ever interested in the UN's comparative responsiveness, put the question, to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs chief Valerie Amos and her Geneva based spokesperson, and to the EU's Georgieva.

  Four days ago, even before the trip, Georgieva replied that she would have an answer in two days, after the visit. And when she and the UN were queried again by @FUNCA_Questions, it was Georgieva who replied.

She told FUNCA she was very “impressed by ICRC in Kaga Bandoro - they stayed there through tough times.”

  In a second message she said, “some NGOs have increased international presence beyond Bangui, the UN also has plans to do so.”

FUNCA_Questions thanked her, and her answers were put out on @FUNCA_info, in it new briefing stream that requests and receives nothing tangible from the UN, unlike its chosen partner.

But what ARE the plans of the UN? Shouldn't the UN say? The UN has many Twitter feeds, but far too many are one-way only. They are Unsocial media.

There is also the question of the blurring of humanitarian and military roles, particularly since Herve Ladsous was installed as the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping. Recently his MONUSCO mission in the Congo criticized MSF for raising the issue.

But when Inner City Press raised it at the noon briefing, expecting to get back some clarification from OCHA on this heretofore signature issue, instead this is what came back: something at odds with what Ladsous' MONUSCO in Kinshasa had said:

Subject: Your question on the DRC
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 11:14 AM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The United Nations has no say in security measures employed by NGOs. UN humanitarian agencies use armed escorts in insecure areas in eastern DRC only as a last resort. The decision to use escorts in specific areas is taken by the UN-wide security management team.

The large-scale humanitarian response in eastern DRC faces serious challenges in the efforts to deliver life-saving assistance to people in need due to lack of access caused by the ongoing conflict and poor infrastructure. Some 212 security incidents against humanitarian actors were reported in DRC in 2012, while 181 were registered in 2011

This leaves the dust-up between Ladsous' MONUSCO and MSF unilluminated, just as the UN has yet to respond on its plans in the CAR. But we will keep asking. Watch this site.


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