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In Gaza, UN's Ban Meets Staff, Ging Sings for Supper, Holmes to Strip

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 20 -- As its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon showed up in Gaza, the UN's call for an "independent investigation" of Israel's bombings of its facilities morphed into a "demand [for] an Israeli investigation." Inner City Press asked the UN's John Holmes and John Ging what lay behind this new phrasing.  Ging said he wasn't sure; Holmes pointed out that the UN has always called for Israel to look into what it did. But he agreed that an Israeli investigation would, by definition, not have the independence originally called for. Video here, from Minute 23:55.

  Inner City Press sources in Gaza say that Ban was only "allowed" to travel to and from the UN Relief and Works Agency compound. They also disagree with John Ging's seemingly forced statement that UNRWA staff "unanimously" were inspired by Ban, who Ging also called "articulate." One source scoffed that Ging's January 20 briefing smacked of video footage of American pilots downed in Vietnam. Holmes congratulated Ging for finally putting on a tie in honor of the Secretary General. That's not all he put on, one wage added.

  Holmes will be traveling to Gaza. Inner City Press asked if he is coordinating with the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel, who announced the day previously that he will be in Gaza on January 25 and 26. Holmes said he hadn't been aware that Michel would be in Gaza, but that the UN and EU coordinate closely. He said the EU will not have a "rival" reconstruction and humanitarian aid program. He also said that both he and Ban Ki-moon have spoken with Quartet envoy -- and JPMorgan Chase consultant -- Tony Blair several times in the past few days. We'll see.

  Inner City Press asked who will remove or defuse the unexploded ordnance in the Strip. Ging said the first step is to identify locations; Holmes' trip will address who will clean it up. Elsewhere, such work is coordinated by the obscure UN Office of Project Services, all of executives are currently in the UN Headquarters basement to convince their Executive Board to allow them to give promotions to themselves, click here for that.

UN's Ban in front of torched UNRWA warehouse, independence of investigation not shown

  What was billed as a closed meet of the UN's "High Level" group on Gaza was to meet with John Holmes at 3:30 p.m. in basement Conference Room 5, usually reserved for budget committee wrangling. At 3:30 Holmes was nowhere to be seen, while the room filled with junior level staffers from the missions of primarily European Union countries. Holmes came with two staffers at 3:37, first approaching rooms meeting on Nepal and Somalia before being directed to where the youthful Europeans awaited. "High level," Inner City Press joked. "Numerous," Holmes replied, seemingly in reference to the low turn-out at the morning press conference. The doors closed.

Footnotes: As Holmes began, outside in what's called the Vienna Cafe, Iran's Ambassador sat at a table watching the Obama parade down Constitution Avenue. He had walked off the podium of Conference Room 2, where he and Iran preside over the Executive Board of the UN Development Program.  Also floating through the basement was the UN's top lawyer, in search of the elusive Conference Room 9, where the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been being doing some type of leadership training or induction. She committed to look into the status of the Secretary General's Bulletin benefiting Jan Mattsson at UNOPS, which Inner City Press reported on yesterday.  We'll have more on all this.

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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