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In Iraq, UN Doesn't Coordinate with US Air-Drops of Aid, De-Conflicted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 29 -- When UN humanitarian official John Ging returned from Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan and held a UN press conference on October 29, Inner City Press asked him about US air-drops of aid in Iraq's Anbar province and reported theft of aid by ISIL there, and of Lebanon banning refugees.

  Ging replied that the UN tried to "de-conflict" and only deals with military to say where its humanitarian colleagues are, for their safety. But what then IS the UN's aid coordinating role?

 Ging said he was not aware of reports of ISIL stealing nine trucks of aid in Anbar and requiring pledges of allegiance in order to eat. Those quotes are from Anbar provincial council spokesman Khalil al-Alwani.

  On Lebanon, Ging's take was that while the responsibilities of countries under international humanitarian law are known, they apply to ALL member states, who should held the neighboring states more.

  Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Ging for always doing these Q&A briefings when he returns from UN trips, and said it should be the norm -- but is not, as to UN Peacekeeping and Political Affairs.

  Back on October 7 when UN official Kevin Kennedy called into the UN noon briefing from Erbil, he even then mentioned bringing aid into Iraq's Anbar Province, under control of the Islamic State and not the government.

So Inner City Press asked Kennedy, until recently the head of the UN Department of Safety and Security and now UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, if the UN could confirm human rights groups' reports on the use of barrel bombs in Anbar.

Kennedy replied, “I don't know about the military issues, I'm not in charge of that.” We'll take him at face value. But note that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in its reports on Syria does report on barrel bombs. What's the difference?

Inner City Press asked Kennedy about Islamic State's use of water as a weapon, specifically its threat to dams. Kenney said “water is a concern, a dam just south of this region [Erbil] opened and began to flood this morning, We begin working on today.”

On a second round, Inner City Press asked Kennedy since there are aid workers in the field in Iraq if the US and others give the UN notification of their airstrikes. Kennedy replied obliquely that the UN tried to keep aid workers safe by “any means we can.” So is that a yes?

Finally, Inner City Press asked Kennedy about the report by NBC News that the Iraqi Air Force dropped supplies to ISIL. Kennedy said he hadn't seen it. Well, here it is. Watch this site.


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