For IMF, Canceling Haiti's Debt is Medium Term Goal,
Outcome Uncertain, UN's IFAD, Venezuela and Taiwan Are Creditors
UN, Haiti Spun from Katrina, Clinton Supports Royal
Caribbean Resort Cruise
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 21 -- The spin machine at the UN kicked into high
gear on Thursday. At the day's noon briefing, Spokesman Martin
Nesirky took issue with a comparison between Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's response to the Haitian earthquake and George W. Bush's to
Nesirky said that while Mr. Ban had been at a
retreat with regional organizations on Long Island when the
earthquake hit, he was told of the event as soon as his car pulled up
at his residence.
City Press asked if the UN would confirm or deny that its "peacekeepers
drove past armed looters without
intervening." Nesirky did not deny it, preferring to defend
Ban's personal response.
how about UN staff complaining that emergency psychological
counseling for survivors wasn't offered, in some cases, for four
days? (Other UN staff have complained to Inner City Press that even
for the now over sixty UN staff confirmed as dead, their names and
numbers are still in the UN's online phone directory.) These things
happen, Nesirky in essence said. A phrase heard after a certain New
Clinton spoke to the Press in the UN's new building later Thursday
afternoon. He spoke about businesses, specifically praising the
"Irish businessman" who run the cell phone company on
Haiti. Ban Ki-moon said he's asked for Clinton's help on "Cash
for Food." As described by UNDP, this will pay Haitians five
dollars a day to work.
City Press asked UNDP's new Associate Director -- the Costa Rican
Rebecca Grynspan, chosen by Ban and UNDP's Helen Clark with some
controversy over candidates from the African Group, which said it had
been promised the position -- how the sufficiency of five dollars a
day had been decided. She replied that one wouldn't want to distort
or destroy the Haitian market.
a controversy on which the UN Spokesperson did not take questions,
Bill Clinton supported Royal
Caribbean lines, whose decision to
continue to bring cruises into the Labadee resort has been
criticized. In fact, Clinton said, the airport should be re-opened
that the resorts can continue. Video here,
from Minute 10:20. It's (not) party time, said one wag in the crowd.
Cruise ship and fancy kayaks
the basement of the UN's old, nearly empty building, top humanitarian
John Holmes spoke to the Press. Initially it was announced as an
appearance by Holmes and a single Ambassador, Alejandro Wolff of the
United States. But shortly before the stakeout was held, the
Ambassadors of France, Canada, Brazil, Uruguay and Haiti were added.
question not allowed was why the UN's web site assigns dollar values
to the U.S.' search and rescue (and "administrative costs")
while declining to do so for other countries, including several of
those beside Holmes on Thursday. Click here
for Inner City Press'
exclusive story, here. We aim to report more on this, watch
despite reports of Haiti rejecting the Dominican Republic's offer of
troops, Haiti's Ambassador said that an announcement will be made
"later" in this "sensitive" subject. We'll be on
* * *
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 21 -- While the IMF's Managing Director Dominique
Strauss-Kahn rushed out a statement that the "IMF is now working
with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt," on
Thursday morning his spokesperson Caroline Atkinson called this a
"medium range" goal.
that Strauss-Kahn cannot predict how the IMF board will vote, when it
meets next week. She mentioned the outstanding bilateral loan to
Haiti of Venezuela, but not Taiwan's reported $92 million loan.
Taiwan is of particular interest in light of mainland China's
dispatch to Haiti of a 125 member "riot squad" fomed police
unit, a senior delegation there on the day of the earthquake, and a
search and rescue team the day after.
creditors is the UN system's International Fund for Agricultural
Development. Even as the UN has done into "Haiti only" mode
for the past nine days, there's been no talk of canceling the UN's
own loans to Haiti.
"Marshall Plan" comments have been portrayed by some
progressives -- or "anti-poverty" activists, as one
reporter at the IMF's January 21 briefing phrased it -- as a victory
for online activism. But Strauss-Kahn's grand statement may mean
less than first appeared.
submitted several questions to the IMF during its January 21
briefing, held in a new broadcast center, about Haiti as well as
Romania, Iceland and Serbia. While Ms. Aktinson read out and at least
purported to respond to Inner City Press' Romania question, this
Haiti question was ignored:
M-D has said "IMF is now
working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt."
What exactly is the IMF doing, with the IADB, IFAD, Venezuela and
Taiwan? When does the IMF anticipate canceling its $265 million in
Do any of the past conditions apply to the first $165 million?
The IMF has in the past provided same day
written responses to
questions submitted but not answered at its bi-weekly briefing. That
should be done today. Watch this site.
Two other unanswered questions are, "Please
state the relation between the Icesave referendum and the IMF's
consideration of Iceland."
Serbia, National Bank of Serbia governor Radovan Jelasic has said
that restrictions on raises are in connection with the IMF. True?"
Note that on the IMF's outstanding $165 million
loan to Haiti,
reportedly the conditions included restrictions on public sector pay
raises, and lifting the price of electricity.
* * *
UN on Haiti, Ban Dodges on Immigration, Armenians Rebuffed, No Copter
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 19 -- As the UN
Security Council voted to authorize
3500 more peacekeepers for Haiti, including 1500 more police,
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on member states to step forward
with offers of troops.
Inner City Press asked about the Dominican
Republic's offer of a battalion, said to number 800, and whether Ban
and the UN think that countries should be less stringent with their
immigration restrictions after the Haitian earthquake.
Ban replied by
praising the Dominican Republic for its troop offer -- which some see
as simply blue helmeting a border guarding force -- and for its help
with the humanitarian effort. He is aware, he said, of the Dominican
Republic's attempt to accommodate Haitians within the Republic's
"rules and regulations."
asked Ban about reports that the UN had run out of fuel for its
trucks to deliver aid. Top humanitarian John Holmes passed a note to
Ban Ki-moon, who read out that last night 10,000 gallons of fuels had
took to the custom made podium brought out for Ban Ki-moon, Inner
City Press asked him about a reported complaint
by Armenia's Mission
to the UN, that they had offered a rescue team last Thursday but were
never told of any UN acceptance or decision.
replied that he
was unaware, but that there are always issues of matching needs with
offers. But from member states?
exclusively Monday evening about what UN sources said
was a helicopter crash in Haiti, asked chief Peacekeeper Alain
for an update. I've seen those reports, he said, but I have no new
information this morning. He said to ask Edmond Mulet, who will be
appearing later on Tuesday by video link from Haiti.
UN's Ban and former spokeswoman, answers on
immigration not shown
China Zhang Yesui, this month's
Security Council president, came out at announced
the Council's vote. While usually he leaves the stakeout without
taking any questions -- on Monday he walked away as Inner City Press
asked about the attacks in Afghanistan -- this time he called on
Xinhua, and offered a long answer on camera, in Chinese. It concerned
the UN's role in responding to Haiti.
would offer any more troops -- its 125 member contingent is, as Inner
City Press has reported, a "riot squad" that when rotated
has flown back to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region -- Zhang
Yesui said it
would be taken under advisement.
last speaker at
the stakeout was U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who came
prepared with an answer to Inner City Press' question
whether the $100 million of aid announced by President Barack Obama
would be part of the UN's flash appeal.
Ambassador Wolff said,
the $100 million is "bilateral." But he said that the US
will be contributing generously to the UN's flash appeal, in the
coming days. We'll see.
because the UN and even Security Council has become all Haiti, all
the time for now, Inner City Press asked the U.S.'s Alejandro Wolff
about reports of bombing in Darfur, requests to protect civilians,
and Chad's statement it does not want the mandate of the Darfur
related MINURCAT peacekeeping mission renewed. Wolff said the U.S.
is concerned and is seeking more information. Inner City Press has
asked the UN too, and hopes to be able to write more on this topic
the UN's January 19 transcript:
City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, the Dominican Republic has offered
a battalion – it has been said publicly – they’ve also said
that they are very concerned about immigration and people crossing
the border. Does the UN have anything to say whether countries
should loosen their immigration restrictions on Haitians, or
otherwise, after this crisis? And also, does the UN still have gas to
run its trucks? There was a report in USA Today that the UN was
running out of gas for its food distribution trucks.
Ki-moon: From the beginning of this crisis, the Dominican Republic
Government has been providing very generously and swiftly all
possible assistance to their neighbouring country, Haiti, and we are
very much grateful to them. I am also aware of the Dominican
Republic’s intention to dispatch troops there - that is also
welcome. For the immigration issues, I am also aware that the
Dominican Republic Government is trying to accommodate as many as
possible, those people within the existing rules and regulations of
their country, but they have been very generous. Of course, this
fuel is quite limited in Haiti. Ten thousand gallons of fuel, I
think, arrived last night from the Dominican Republic. That will
help more, as we continue our operations.