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On Cholera in Haiti, UN Studying Srebrenica Ruling, Ban Took A Single Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 -- Six days after Inner City Press asked the UN about cholera and if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was traveling to Haiti mid-July (and the UN dodged),  Ban traveled there and spoke publicly six times -- including two "press conferences" only one with a Q&A session (ther, with only two questions).

  In the Dominican Republic, Ban's press encounter send out by his Spokesperson's Office contained no questions at all.

 At noon on July 16, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about this, and about the court ruling that the state of Netherlands is liable for the deaths of 300 Bosniaks in Srebrenica. Video here and embedded below.

 Inner City Press asked Haq to comment, in the context of the more than 8000 deaths in Haiti, on this sentence: "there is a growing acceptance that an individual state can be held liable for deaths in a UN-mandated operation."

  Haq said, we are still studying it. Watch this site.

  Later, Ban's office sent out what he said to the Dominican Congress: mentions of Junot Diaz and Robinson Cano, but nothing about the UN bringing cholera to Hispaniola.

   On July 15 after Ban's spokesperson's office said it had closed, it released the promised transcript of Ban's "question and answer" press conference in Haiti. To the lone cholera question, Ban said

I and the United Nations feel very sad for the tragic death of more than 8,000 people and more than 700,000 people who have been affected by cholera. One of the main purposes of my coming to Haiti this time is to demonstrate our strong solidarity with the Government and people, particularly those affected people, the United Nations’ continuing commitment to eliminate this cholera. I will do my best as the Secretary-General to work with the partners and donors and with the World Bank to mobilize all the necessary resources to provide assistance to those affected people and to improve water and sanitation systems. This is exactly what I did yesterday with Prime Minister Lamothe in Los Palmas. Thank you.”

   That's it. At the July 15 UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson to respond to protest signs in Haiti: "Dead: 8563, Sick 704,000; Justice 0."

  Haq said Ban assures Haitians of his personal commitment, wants to be the advocate of the Haitian people.

  Inner City Press asked, will the UN apologize? (Video here and embedded below.  Here's an Inner City Press song on topic.)

   Haq replied that Ban is "anguished" about the situation.

   But is that an apology?

  Haq said he had nothing to add. Where he gave the next question, he got back a softball which invited him to talk about money Ban's UN gave, or raied, or merely tried to raise.

  Each time Ban mentioned cholera, without once addressing who brought it to Hispanola. While an Inner City Press reader points out the troop contributing country, Nepal, the question is: wasn't the UN in charge of sanitation?

  Doesn't UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous still refuse to screen peacekeepers before deployment from cholera hot-spots? Didn't the UN dissemble about the failure to take this safeguard?

 Ban ended his first speech saying "you can count on me and the UN to do our part." Really?

  After meeting a family impacted by (the UN's) cholera, Ban said "the whole international community, including the United Nations, has a moral duty to help those people to stem the further spread of cholera." Just "including" the UN. Just because.

  In what the UN called a "press encounter," without providing any Q&A, Ban said "Lastly, in addressing all socio-economic issues as well as cholera issues, let me also underline that this is not a time for donor fatigue."

  Is that it?

  A question is whether Ban while there be served with legal papers about the UN bringing cholera to Hispanola, another topic on which Ban's spokespeople dodged and worse.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access will have more on this.


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