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From Haiti, U.S. Describes Work with UN Hardly Present, Politics of Aid

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 16 -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly said that all aid to Haiti should be coordinated through the UN, this is not happening, according to two U.S. officials' description on Saturday morning of American activities.

  On a press conference call from Haiti, U.S. Senior Regional Adviser Tim Callaghan described American search and rescue teams from Fairfax, Virginia coordinating with the government of Haiti and "the consulate."

  These teams, he said, have rescued 15 people: seven Americans and eight Haitians. It was notable that this U.S. report included no other "internationals," on whom the UN has focused, as least in its own reporting.

  A reporter from Brazil asked why the U.S. is controlling the airport when "the UN should control on the grounds." Responses by Callaghan and U.S. National Security Council chief of staff Dennis McDonough sought to assure the Brazilian media that President Barack Obama spoke with President Lula. The UN peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH was mentioned only in terms of the Brazilian role in and leadership of its military component.

  In the health sector, the U.S. is giving "what we call WHO medical kits" to the Pan American Health Organization. In the water and sanitation cluster, which the UN's John Holmes acknowledged on Friday to Inner City Press is usually coordinated by UNICEF except they lack presence in Haiti, the U.S. is giving water bladders to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a water purification system to an Argentinian hospital.

  A reporter from Argentina asked about an Argentine Hercules aircraft, full of medical supplies, which could not land in Port au Prince and is now waiting in the Dominican Republic.

  The American briefers said they would look into it. They confirmed to CNN that a medical donation from Israel "has arrived" but had no information on offers, including of oil, from Venezuela. Call it the politics of aid.

Self-help shelter in Cite Soleil, UN (and US) aid and coordination not shown

  An American radio reporter demanded to know if Secretary of State Clinton's visit today was blocking other aid getting in. McDonough quickly "disabused" the reporter of the idea, saying that the flights used will also bring aid, and take evacuees out.

  Is that the case, one UN correspondent wanted to know, with the plane to be used on Sunday by what's now know as the Ban-tourage, the UN's Ban Ki-moon and entourage, including the documentarians from the UN and Ban's native South Korea? Again, the politics of aid. Watch this site.

* * *

In Haiti, National UN Staff in Limbo, Despite Some Good News in Ruins

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- At the UN on July 14 it became even less clear what the UN Mission in Haiti is doing for it national staff, including how it is counting them. In the casualty figures released by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the morning, no national Haitian staff were included.

At the UN's noon briefing by video link from near the Port au Prince airport, figures were provided for injured national staff, but not deceased or missing. Inner City Press, which first raised the question on July 13, asked why. Because they went to their homes, was the answer. Because they are focused on survival.

  Inner City Press is informed that a MINUSTAH staffer, close with Hedy Annabi, has been found alive. A reliable source told Inner City Press that "Patrick Hein, working closely with Annabi was rescued... brought up from the mess of concrete. According to his dad Philippe Hein ( who has visited him at one point in Haiti and used to work at WTO ) his office is next to Annabi. Father was a bit piss off at Kouchner for saying that everyone has perished."

  If true, this is good news. But what about national Haitian UN staff? When Pressed, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, the tri-lingual Kim Bolduk, said that UNDP had sent out three missions to check on its national staff in their homes.

  When Inner City Press tried to follow up this answer to MINUSTAH's director of communications, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky cut in to disallow this follow up.

Hotel Christopher, rented by UN for $94,000 a month, in ruins - MOSS compliant?

  He proceeded to allow some others two and three follow ups, whenever they wanted. The UN is full of open double standards. We will continue. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Doesn't Count Haitian Staff - But Treats Them Equally, Ban Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- A day after the UN's death count of its personnel in Port au Prince at first included a single Haitian staff member, and then dropped the reference, on Thursday morning Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dropped all reference to nationalities in his count of the dead.

Inner City Press asked if the UN's national Haitian staff have been included in the figures the UN has been giving out, not only of casualties but even of how many people work for the UN.

While Ban insisted that national staff are treated "equally," the figure thrown around - that 11,000 people work for the UN's MINUSTAH mission -- does not include the UN's national staff.

  In response to the question, Ban referred to notes and said that the UN has 1200 national staff in Haiti. This compares to 490 international civilian staff.

  After Ban left the stakeout, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain the UN's reporting of casualties. Nesirky said that the focus has been on reporting to those with international interest.

UN's Ban at stakeout, national Haitian staff not in figures

  He also said that national staff who worked in the UN headquarters in Port of Prince were somehow more likely to have already have left the building for the day when the earthquake struck. Video here.

  Now, he said, the UN is going out to the listed home addresses of its national staff to check on them. But will they now begin reporting the Haitians, equally, in their public statements? Watch this site.

Footnote: after Ban and his spokesman left the stakeout, another journalist -- not this one -- marveled that the UN would focus on internationals and not Haitians, who are the people most impacted, and of most interest to her as a journalist.

  From the UN's January 14 transcript:

Inner City Press: I understand that now you are saying that the nationality of those killed will be given by the Spokesman. Yesterday it was mentioned that a Haitian national was among those who were deceased, and then in what you said yesterday evening, it wasn’t mentioned. Some questions have arisen whether the numbers the UN is given actually include the Haitians that are hired, the national staff. What is the figure, or what are the procedures for checking how the actual Haitian nationals employed in various functions for the UN are faring?

SG Ban Ki-moon: In saving lives, there is no difference, no distinction between international and national staff. We have 1,200 national staff employed by the United Nations [in Haiti]. There seems to be very much a difficulty in communicating with all the national staff. Some of their houses have been affected. It is very difficult to account for all the national staff. We are doing, on the same principal: that we will try to save all the lives, without any distinction.

 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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