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After UN Slips Briefing In During Rwanda FM Speech, FUNCA Fights, Flexibility Shown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 25, updated -- The UN, it seems, does not want to answer or even take questions. Thursday it started its noon briefing right as Rwanda's foreign minister was criticizing UN Peacekeeping in a Security Council speech.

  When Inner City Press nevertheless ran to the briefing room at 12:03 pm, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey was still in the room but said, "It's over."

  To address the decrease in information, and the UN partnering with Gulf & Western media like Reuters' UN bureau and AFP trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, Inner City Press co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access for just this.

  And so on behalf of FUNCA, Inner City Press asked Del Buey and then his Associate Farhan Haq to re-start the briefing and take questions, it being only 12:05 pm.

  We started and it's over, was the answer.

  But Ban's Spokesperson's Office has delayed its "noon" briefing up to twenty minutes to accomodate some countries, for example then US Ambassador Susan Rice. They couldn't wait three minutes while the foreign minister of a country the UN failed -- Rwanda -- delivered a detailed critique?

  The next answer was that there was a lack of UN Television channels. The UN Department of Public Information recently spent a lot of money for a supposed upgrade, now listing a dozen channels. So it seems one would have been available.

  There was no answer on this -- the person in charge is away -- but to their credit Del Buey and Haq took up position behind the Spokesperson's Office's front counter, like in a fast food restaurant, and said "fire away."

  After thanking them for FUNCA, Inner City Press asked about reported and photographed gunship helicopter attacks by the Congolese Army on Rumangabo and Kavodo but there was still no answer. Did the UN Mission under Herve Ladsous even go there? No answer.

  Again to be fair, when Inner City Press asked if the EU resolution on Hezbollah changes anything for the UNIFIL mission, they answered by citing an answer from UN envoy Plumbly. They had only one copy, and Inner City Press -- or was it FUNCA? -- let another journalist have it, with the promise by the Spokesperson's Office that another would be e-mailed. But it was an answer.

Update: this came in:

QUESTION: Following the European decision to add Hizbullah’s military wing on the European terror list, do you fear for the UNIFIL troops?
SCL DEREK PLUMBLY:  I don’t think so. The United Nations is the United Nations. The United Nations is made up of all States and UNIFIL includes troops from over 30 states. I believe everyone in Lebanon and in the region is benefiting from the security and stability that derives from the presence of UNIFIL troops in the south.

  On the possible naming as deputy chief of the UN pension fund of a person named by the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services as engaged in financial irregularities, it was said that language is being put together.

  On South Sudan they admitted that the UN no longer speaks with the ministers fired by Salva Kiir, but seemed to claim that services were not impacted. How could that be? Watch this site.


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