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UN Complaints of Gambari's Shirking of Retreat, $620000 on Mansion, End?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, May 21 -- When the UN paid for its far-flung envoys to travel to New York for a retreat at the Greentree estate last week, many were surprised and angry that Darfur envoy Ibrahim Gambari appeared only briefing, for the photo op and conclusion, and otherwise "did personal business" in New York.

  As exclusively reported by Inner City Press on February 3, Gambari spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build himself a "hard shell on the hill" estate in the UN's El Fasher peacekeeping camp. As peacekeeping budget missions are now reviewed in the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee, Inner City Press has be informed by whistleblowers of the full cost: $620,000.

  They opine, in Press style, that "how many IDPs could be sheltered in this sumptuous, air-conditioned dwelling, fifty? A hundred? Not bad for an occasional residence, no? Particularly since it was neither planned nor budgeted. Where did the money come from? Guess those poor blighters of staff members will have to wait a bit more for the improved accommodations and life enhancing welfare facilities this money was earmarked for. Tough questions may be asked at budget discussions."

  Now, attendees at the SRSG retreat say that Gambari "has resigned, sensing he wouldn't be renewed," based on these spending scandals. But why use UN resources to come to New York and then miss most of the retreat?

  Several other attendees complained at "how little some of these new Ban Ki-moon SRSGs know," not only about the countries they have been assigned to, but even thematic topics. "Things are going to the dogs," as one attendee put it. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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