As UN Confirms Death of
Annabi, Hotel Christopher Safety Questions
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 16 -- Four days after the collapse in Port au Prince
of the Hotel Christopher, the UN on Saturday confirmed the death of
its top envoy to Haiti Hedi Annabi, as well as his deputy Luiz Carlos
da Costa and acting police chief Doug Coates.
often with the Press, at the UN in New York when he was deputy
peaceekeeping chief, then after taking over from Edmond Mulet at the
UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH. In this last role he would brief the
Security Council and press, urging more attention and help to Haiti.
City Press in 2009 asked Annabi about building codes in Haiti and the
UN's role, following the collapse of a school in Petionville. Video here,
from Minute 1:50. Annabi
said, then and after, that the UN could and should do more.
earthquake and collapse of its Haiti headquarters in Hotel
Christopher the UN has evaded and discouraged the question, records
show that the location had yet to be brought up to the ostensibly
required UN Minimum Operational Safety Standard, MOSS.
procurement plan occurs an item for $400,000, to bring the Hotel
Christopher into MOSS compliance.
As UN's Annabi (right) mourned peacekeeper, now he
the UN has argued that the Hotel Christopher fell because it was in
the epicenter of the earthquake, a correspondent in Port au Prince
wrote Friday to Inner City Press
asked Mulet about the location and safety of the UN building
au Prince.at that briefing on Weds morning. He said that the UN
building was toppled because it was the epicentre of the earthquake.
it is not. it is up the road towards Petionville -- the other side of
the city. the quake struck towards the south-west. other buildings in
the area of the collapsed UN building, the christoph hotel, are
standing up fine --- point being that it may not have been such a
safe and secure choice."
UN decided to rent the Hotel Christopher in 2004.
City Press asked repeatedly how much rent the UN was paying on the
building, the UN refused to answer. Finally, DPKO
provided this response which Inner City Press exclusively
main MINUSTAH headquarters complex (The Christopher Hotel) is rented
directly from a private individual (Dr. Gerard Desir) at the rate of
$3.86 per square meter. The total complex is 24,383 square meters
which includes parking, office space, pre-fab office space, canteen
and conference space. The total monthly rent is thus $94,000. Please
note that this does not include the MINUSTAH logbase, which is
located on a plot of land provided at no cost by the Haitian
Government. The decision to select the Hotel Christopher was based on
a locally-completed analytical process which determined that this
facility was one of the few premises in Port au Prince which would
meet the Mission's requirements with regards to space, water and
power . It is also in a neighbourhood that was judged in 2004 to be
among the safest in Port au Prince."
ironies, note that as another correspondent has
tried to get the UN to confirm and update this $94,000 a month figure
earthquake, the UN has refused.
respect to Mr. Annabi, questions remain whether the UN should use --
and separately pay $94,000 a month for -- buildings that are not MOSS
compliant. We will pursue this question, out of respect for Mr.
Annabi and his colleagues. May they rest in peace.
while on Friday night, as Inner City Press exclusively reported, Ban
Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky had decided to taken 10 media
people, including Korean and UN media, on the Sunday one day trip,
after complaints two additional wire services were added. This still
does not address what criteria were used, nor some other questions.
We will continue reporting.
* * *
Haiti, U.S. Describes Work with UN Hardly Present, Politics of
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 16 -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has
repeatedly said that all aid
to Haiti should be coordinated through
the UN, this is not happening, according to two U.S. officials'
description on Saturday morning of American activities.
conference call from Haiti, U.S. Senior Regional Adviser Tim
Callaghan described American search and rescue teams from Fairfax,
Virginia coordinating with the government of Haiti and "the
he said, have rescued 15 people: seven
Americans and eight Haitians. It was notable that this U.S. report
included no other "internationals,"
on whom the UN has focused, as least in its own reporting.
Brazil asked why the U.S. is controlling the airport when "the
UN should control on the grounds." Responses by Callaghan and
U.S. National Security Council chief of staff Dennis McDonough sought
to assure the Brazilian media that President Barack Obama spoke with
President Lula. The UN peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH was mentioned
only in terms of the Brazilian role in and leadership of its military
sector, the U.S. is giving "what we call WHO medical kits"
to the Pan American Health Organization. In the water and sanitation
cluster, which the UN's John Holmes acknowledged on Friday to Inner
City Press is usually coordinated by UNICEF except they lack presence
in Haiti, the U.S. is giving water bladders to the International
Committee of the Red Cross, and a water purification system to an
Argentina asked about an Argentine Hercules aircraft, full of medical
supplies, which could not land in Port au Prince and is now waiting
in the Dominican Republic.
briefers said they would look
into it. They confirmed to CNN that a medical donation from Israel
"has arrived" but had no information on offers, including
of oil, from Venezuela. Call it the politics of aid.
Self-help shelter in Cite Soleil, UN (and US)
aid and coordination not shown
reporter demanded to know if Secretary of State Clinton's visit today
was blocking other aid getting in. McDonough quickly "disabused"
the reporter of the idea, saying that the flights used will also
bring aid, and take evacuees out.
Is that the
case, one UN
correspondent wanted to know, with the plane
to be used on Sunday by
what's now know as the Ban-tourage, the UN's Ban Ki-moon and
entourage, including the documentarians from the UN and Ban's native
South Korea? Again, the politics of aid. Watch this site.
* * *