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UN in Gaza Was Quiet on Aid Suspension, 10 Million Little Dollars

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

UNITED NATIONS, January 25 -- The UN in the Gaza Strip has begun to lose credibility. It began with the UN Relief and Works Agency's John Ging called Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon articulate. Two other recent examples concern UNRWA's now-confirmed suspension of aid trucks, on which it never reported and which the UN inaccurately denied, and even the entry of cash into the Strip. On January 23, John Ging told the Press that cash had finally gotten in, to "some international organizations."

   When Inner City Press asked if this meant the reported $10 million to UNRWA, Ging said that UNRWA was the only organization allowed cash entry by Israel -- why then the use of the plural, organizations? -- and he then refused to confirm the $10 million figure, only saying, "a small amount." Why be evasive, particularly on a topic on which UNRWA has been consistently complaining?

UN's Ban at UNRWA, $10 million and suspended aid trucks not shown

   On January 21, Inner City Press asked  about a report, on the Palestinian Ma'an News service, that a truck of Jordan-given aid was hijacked and diverted at the Karem Shalom crossing, and UNRWA suspended other deliveries.  Ms. Montas said she would get back with an answer. This is what arrived:

Subj: your question on UNRWA trucks
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Sent: 1/21/2009 1:14:22 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

We haven't seen the media reports you were referring to, and our colleagues at UNRWA didn't mention anything like this when we spoke with them right before the noon briefing today. [Emphasis added.]

 Inner City Press immediately sent the UN Spokesperson's Office in New York and the Chris Gunness of OCHA in the OPT a copy of the Ma'an article about with a request for comment, "if UNRWA does not deny the diversion, please explain why the UN has not commented on it, and UNHQ says it's unaware of it." But for two days there was no answer at all. Then on January 23, John Ging while stating that the initial diversion did not occur, acknowledged that UNRWA had temporarily suspended entry. So did UNRWA not even mention this to the UN in New York?

  While Ging has for weeks stressed that there must be accountability for the deaths and destruction in the region, Friday he dodged Inner City Press' question of if the UN system's shift from his call for an independent investigation to one for an Israeli investigation, at least in the first instance, has impacted and decreased the expectation of justice and accountability among Gaza residents. The litmus test will be down the road, he said. But what about now?

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

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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