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On Haiti Cholera, Honore Defers to UN Legal Division, O'Brien Still Around

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 28 -- When the UN's new envoy to Haiti Sandra Honore came to take questions on Wednesday, there was an obvious one to be asked.

  Inner City Press asked her about the UN's dismissal of claims it brought cholera to Haiti and whether this undermined the UN's credibility in the country (and elsewhere). Video here, from Minute 0:33.

  Sandra Honore was prepared, rattled off statistics about the country's three year need for $443 million, 47% of which has been pledged, but then added that she was not in the position to add more, that the issue is being dealt with in the Legal Division at UN Headquarters and that it is not the practice of the UN to discuss in public such claims.

Yes, this undermines the UN's credibility. The UN preaches about accountability, and transparency. Then when accused of bringing in a disease, negligently, which has killed over 8,000 people, the UN said it cannot discuss the claims in public.

  Since the Office of Legal Affairs has already dismissed the claims, to say they are being dealt with there might imply the UN knows it is going to be sued. What will new OLA chief from Portugal do? What will he say?

  Sources in OLA tell Inner City Press he is taking on many staff from his predecessor Patricia O'Brien. There's talk of a less than transparent extension for Ms. O'Brien, who most thought had left, and some last minute deals. We'll have more on this.

  Inner City Press also asked Sandra Honore about the delay, after she was nominated, in being accepted as UN Envoy by the Martelly government. In responding Sandra Honore took the high road, saying she began on July 15 and has been working hard.

  In terms of process, there may be hard work in UN Headquarters but the audio quality and volume of questions asked at the UN Security Council, even with a boom microphone, was sub-standard, not only for Inner City Press but for the other journalist who asked questions.

 The Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, has asked the question "why" to the UN official in charge, Stephane Dujarric, to UN TV and to Team People, the low-bidding UN contractor. So far, no response. Ah, accountability. Watch this site.


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