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UN Defends Use of Haiti Love Boat, Belated Moratorium on Evictions, No Times

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 28 -- When the UN's top representative in Haiti Edmond Mulet emerged from the Security Council on Wednesday, only one journalist was there. One of his staffers asked Inner City Press, what happened to the interest in Haiti? What indeed.

Mulet gamely agreed to take questions. Inner City Press asked about forced evictions from the soccer stadium on Port au Prince on April 9, and from at least two schools. Mulet acknowledged these had happened, but said that he and others met with Haitian authorities "last Thursday" -- that is, April 22 -- and that going forward there would be a moratorium. But what about the 7000 evicted from the stadium?

Inner City Press asked about the so-called Love Boats, two luxury ships rented by the World Food Program and one sub-contracted to Mulet's mission MINUSTAH. Mulet said this was only temporary, that a camps is being built to house up to 500 people. Currently 200 are housed on board. At what cost, he said, he did not know.

UN DSG Migiro, watched by Edmond Mulet, April 9 eviction not shown

  On April 1, Kim Bolduc left after a mere four months as UN Resident Coordinator in Haiti. Inner City Press, which exclusively reported the departure, asked Mulet to explain it. We "discussed her reasons for leaving," Mulet said, without disclosing them. Video here, from Minute 3:45.

Press notes: Inner City Press asked Mulet about the day's front page New York Times story on seemingly forgotten parts of Haiti, assuming he would have read it. "I haven't," he said. Does this reflect on UN media readiness, on pay walls or that the Paper of Record is not what it once was? Last week, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said he would seek guidance on a New York Times editorial pillorying the UN's performance in Afghanistan. But a week later, no response. Does the UN feel no need?

  Meanwhile, at least some in the UN are thinking of further limiting press availability. A UN press aide, seeing only this reporter waiting for Mulet, said that maybe the stakeouts should be canceled. Or not be televised, so reporters had to come. Or televised on a delay. Serve sandwiches and liquor, one wag suggested. Then the press will come. And so it goes.

* * *

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.

 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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