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UN Silent on Haiti Evictions, Says Rented Love Boat is Not a Luxury

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 15 -- While the UN speaks of the humane relocation of Haitians, on April 9 the Haitian National Police summarily evicted over 7000 people from the Sylvio Cator soccer stadium in Port-au-Prince. The stadium's managers said that "the Taiwanese are planning to repair the bleachers and replace the artificial turf," which the earthquake survivors had reportedly damaged.

  The UN had send Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro to Haiti for the three month anniversary of the January 12 earthquake. On April 15, Inner City Press asked DSG Migiro if the UN had planned any role in the eviction, if the UN had been informed by the HNP, which UN officials have described as a "partner," prior to the evictions.

  DSG Migiro said that despite her visit, she was unaware of the eviction. She said that some relocations are involuntary, but are intended to move people to higher ground before the rainy season. Those in the soccer stadium, however, were merely given one small tent per family, and were otherwise left to fend for themselves.

  By contrast, the UN system has rented luxury cruise ships on which to house its international staff. Inner City Press asked Ms. Migiro about these ships. She disputed that they were luxury liners, despite the ship's owner's own photographs. She said she had been aware of the controversy, but had not visited the ships.

UN rented Sea Voyager- not luxurious? Piano honky tonk?

After her press conference, several correspondents remarked how her presentation style has improved since the halting and hurried MDGs presentations earlier in her tenure. The Secretariat's communications arm, on the other hand, seems to be moving backwards. Wednesday that Office said it would explain why Ms. Migiro's predessessor Mark Malloch Brown was at the UN Chief Executives Board meetings last week in Vienna. But a day later, no answer has been provided.

Footnotes: Later on Thursday, as SG Ban Ki-moon marched with his entourage into the Security Council, Mr. Ban asked Inner City Press about the new press arrangements. We still have less access that before, Inner City Press replied, but pointed out that after a fight, the press was allowed in a pen in front of the Council entrance. Mr. Ban indicated, seemingly joking, that this made him more vulnerable. But there are questions to be answered.

Among them is why the UN said nothing when it learned that its U.S. staff member Louis Maxwell and other colleagues in Kabul were quite possible killed by Afghan National forces and not the Taliban. Already this week Mr. Ban has said he was unaware of the case of Al-Tijani Al-Sissi Ateem, who was recruited as a pro-government Darfur rebel leader by the UN-AU mediator Djibril Bassole while Ateem was being paid as a UN staffer. (Inner City Press has been promised both contact information for Mr. Bassole, and a further answer about his activities, neither of which has yet been provided).

Will Ban say he is unaware of the troubling case of Louis Maxwell? Watch this site.

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IMF Coy with Ukraine Numbers, Denies Pakistan Conditions, Ignores Haiti Question

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 15 -- While the IMF on Thursday proudly announced Greece's request to discuss IMF "fund program engagement," questions emerged about conditions the IMF imposes and how transparent they are.

  Inner City Press asked for confirmation that the IMF is "pressuring Ukraine's government to set a budget deficit goal of six percent of GDP -- did Managing Director Dominique Strauss Kahn discuss this issue, and this number, with Mr. Yanukovych on Monday?"

  IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson, who like her colleagues often denies that the IMF pressures any government to do anything, this time replied that "we do not go public with numbers until we're closer" to a deal.

Inner City Press also asked "In Pakistan, there have been protests against the Value Added Tax the protesters say the IMF is requiring be imposed. What is the relation of the VAT to what the IMF will propose to the Executive Board on May 3 regarding Pakistan?"

Ms. Aktinson said "governments decide what measures to implement... we help [with] the size of the adjustment measures."

But Colombia is being offered a facility with no conditions. Inner City Press asked, comparing it to Ukraine and Pakistan, "Would the facility to Colombia which Mr. Lipsky has spoken in favor of come with any similar conditions, or any conditions or recommendations at all?"

Ms. Atkinson said that no conditions are required if "policies are strong." Clearly this would not apply to Greece.

IMF's Stauss Kahn, Haitian fish story not shown

It is also unclear how the IMF decides which opposition parties to meet with, and what instructions it gives them. Inner City Press asked a question which Ms. Atkinson summarized rather than directly answer. The question was, "Following the IMF's Bakker's meeting w/ Bulgarian opposition parties, it appears that IMF disagrees with their characterization of the meeting. Does IMF tell its interlocutors how to describe such meetings, or not to describe them? Will there be any changes in IMF meetings with opposition parties?"

Ms. Atkinson, after her summary, said that "we have different exchanges" with opposition parties "when relevant." She did not answer what instructions or conditions the IMF imposes on such meetings.

Inner City Press asked, The "Haiti Recovery Act" passed by the U.S. House of Representatives calls for the IMF to forgive all outstanding debt of Haiti. Why has the IMF not done so yet, and when will the Managing Director finally make his proposal to the Board?"

But this question, a follow up to an inconclusive Q&A with Mr. Strauss Kahn at the UN on March 31, was not even acknowledged, must less answered. Watch this site.

* * *

On Haiti, IMF's Strauss-Kahn Dodges on Debt Forgiveness, Past Conditions' Harm

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- Amid the congratulatory talk about help to Haiti at the UN on March 31, it emerged that the International Monetary Fund has yet to forgive Haiti's now over $270 million in debt to the IMF, while by contrast the Inter American Development Bank has forgiven all of its $479 million in loans to Haiti.

  Inner City Press asked the IMF's Dominique Strauss-Kahn why the IMF's loans had yet to be forgiven, and to address the IMF's previous conditionalities on Haiti which results, experts say, in the destruction of the country's rice industry.

  Strauss-Kahn scoffed at the latter question, saying that this -- a press stakeout in front of the pledging conference in the UN's Trusteeship Council Chamber -- was not the place to discussion conditionality. On the still unforgiven loans, he argued that they are not due until 2012, and bragged that Rene Preval is happy with the IMF's, and presumably his, performance.

  After the stakeout, Strauss-Kahn made a point of hanging around with President Preval in the hallway in front of the Trusteeship Council.

UN's Ban, Zoellick and Strauss-Kahn, IMF debt forgiveness not yet shown

  Soon, the representative of the IADB came out, and confirmed that full forgiveness of $479 million in loans. Inner City Press asked, what explained the IABD's fast forgiveness, and the IMF's continued delay?

   The IADB representative diplomatically mentioned the meeting of finance ministers in Cancun. But there are been a number of IMF Executive Board meetings and/or actions since Haiti's earthquake.

Some question whether Strauss-Kahn's perhaps related fixation on Greece -- where he's said the IMF would "intervene" if asked -- and his personal political trajectory, not only vis a vis Nicolas Sarkozy but also Martine Aubry, have made him and the IMF slow on Haiti. One wouldn't know it from Wednesday's bluster, but facts... are facts. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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

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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