"Crash" in Haiti Described to Inner City Press by UN Sources,
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
NATIONS, Jan 18, 7:30 pm, updated
Jan 18, 8:50 am -- A helicopter has crashed by Port au Prince,
Haiti, a senior UN official told Inner City Press on Monday at 6
An hour of further inquiry within the UN has resulted in a
along with a statement that the aircraft's affiliation with the UN is
not known. Injuries are rumored. Watch this space.
of 8:41 p.m.- while the crash has been multiply confirmed to Inner
City Press, a request for further information sent to the UN's
Humanitarian Coordinator resulted in the following, from his
spokesperson: "Full info about this crash is still not known. It
was apparently not a UN craft; MINUSTAH is trying to ascertain more
The Office of the
Spokesperson for the Secretary General ws padlocked shut. Inner City
Press has sent an inquiry, then, to MINUSTAH. Peacekeeping logistics
chief Susana Malcorra told the Press on Monday that MINUSTAH has
Internet. Watch this space.
of January 19, 8:57 a.m. -- While the UN Office for the
of Humanitarian Affairs referred on Inner City Press' inquiry Monday
evening, and formal UN spokespeople in New York have not provided any
update (the UN's spokespeople in Haiti never responded, perhaps
understandable), well placed UN sources have just provided Inner City
Press with this update:
US helicopter was off-loading relief aid and was having problems
maneuvering because of the crowds. They mistook the whole thing as a
crash, because there was smoke on the background (and it was not that
close to the air strip)."
hope to have
more on this. Watch this space.
Helicopter over Port au Prince on January 14, 2009
* * *
UN, It's "All Hail" to US in Haiti, While Elsewhere France
and Brazil Are Critical
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 18 -- As the UN
Security Council emptied out Monday
at noon, sources told Inner City Press that in closed
the U.S. said that to strengthen the mandate of the UN Mission in
Haiti, MINUSTAH, would "send the wrong message... that the
Haitian government is weak."
Alejandro Wolff, who represented the U.S. in the meeting and spoke
afterwards to the Press, said that the U.S. is supporting UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's request for a vote authorizing 2000
more troops and 1500 more police for MINUSTAH.
asked Ambassador Wolff if it is true that the U.S. thinking
strengthening the mandate would send some wrong message. Wolff
replied that the UN, including chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy, has not
identified any deficiency in the mandate.
Ambassador left the Council, Inner City Press asked her about public
quotes from Brazil that MINUSTAH's mandate should, in fact, be
bolstered. She, however, called the mandate "sufficient."
about any difficulties Brazilian NGOs have had getting
into Haiti through the airport, now run by the U.S., she said there
have been "no such problems."
Gerard Araud, too, was over the top in his praise of the U.S.,
telling the Press that "we are living in the US after all." Inner City
asked if, as reported, France supported Medecins Sans Frontieres
complaints about having planes blocked by the Americans
from the Port
au Prince airport.
French Ambassador Araud, ministers' critiques of
U.S. not shown
quickly answered (video here)
that the Americans are doing a good job, that the
airport is small by international standards, and that "we are living in
the US after all."
fact, French Cooperation
Joyandet made a complaint about the blocking of MSF's plane.
And Araud's boss Bernard Kouchner
has said the airport has become an "annex or Washington," according to
France's Ambassador to Haiti Didier Le Bret.
So what is France's position --
these two statements, or Araud's?
From the French Mission's
transcription, of question dubious, of
answer less so:
Inner City Press:
Médecins sans frontières
complained that its planes couldn’t get in to the airport and
blamed the Americans. Does France confirm that?
Amb. Araud: Of course, no.
I think we are
extremely grateful and personally I said it in the Council, extremely
grateful for what the US government is doing, and especially managing
the airport. You know, frustrations are understandable. You have a
small airport, in international terms, which was devastated by the
earthquake and you have hundred of planes which want to land. So it’s
totally normal that there are delays, but I think that the situation
has dramatically improved. Yesterday, you know, it was possible to
have sixty planes landing and today it will be one hundred planes
landing. But the most important will be to work on the port. We have
to rehabilitate the port where we can bring most of the aid.
Once again, we are living
in the US
after all, and we want to express our gratitude for the mobilization
of the US administration and the US people.
the US Mission's transcript:
City Press: Someone said on this idea of strengthening the mandate
that the U.S. had a concern that this would send a message somehow
that the Government of Haiti was too weak. I just want to know
whether you think there is a danger in that type of message being
sent. And also whether the U.S. will be participating in the UN's
Flash Appeal that was announced on Friday, whether the $100 million
announced by President Obama in any way is related to that or should
be counted towards that.
Ambassador Wolff: I'll get back to
you on the later question, I want to make sure I have the right
information for you, exactly how that $100 million fits into that,
into the Flash Appeal. As to the mandate issue, there is no
indication, indeed neither the Secretary-General nor
Undersecretary-General Le Roy mentioned any deficiency in the current
mandate. And so, if the UN is satisfied and the troop contributors
are satisfied and the force commander is satisfied then we should
focus on what we need to do under the current mandate. Of course, as
you indicate, we will need to look and evaluate over the longer term,
as we assess the long term impact of this tragedy on the country and
on the UN's ability to function, and whether the requirements for the
UN have to be adapted in any way. That is something that we do
with any mandate and we will obviously do it with particular
attention in this case.
Watch this site.
Footnote: Since the Security Council has other
matters on its agenda, Inner City Press tried to ask this month's
Council president, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, if and when he
expects the Council to address Afghanistan. But having been asked if
the Chinese search and rescue team stopped after finding the Chinese
delegation who'd met with Hedi Annabi, Zhang Yesui just
walked away. Who will replace him as China's Ambassador is not yet