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On Hurricane Irma, UN Spox Cuts Off Press Q on Debt Moratorium, Gives 3 Minute Notice

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 16 – While the UN system's International Monetary Fund has yet to announce any debt moratorium for countries impacted by Hurricane Irma, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric gave the press a mere three minutes to sign up to attend the UN's September 18 meeting about Irma, see below. When the IMF re-started its biweekly embargoed press briefings on September 14, Inner City Press submitted a question about Hurricane Irma and moratoria: "On Antigua and Barbuda, and Hurricane Irma impacted countries more generally... will there be no moratoria? What is the IMF doing?" IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said, "There's a question from Matthew Lee on moratorium... on that, I would refer to what Mme Lagarde said a few days ago, of course the IMF has tremendous sympathy. She also said we stand ready to help. There are a number of options we can look at in that context. At the moment we are still trying to make an assessment. As a factual member, none of our members including Antigua and Barbuda have formally requested assistance from the Fund." Oh. On September 15, when Inner City Press at the UN asked Patti Smith about it, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric cut off the question saying he would answer it at his forthcoming briefing. He did not. Instead, with a mere three minutes' notice, at 3:57 pm on September 15 he told the Press it had until 4 pm to request a seat to cover the UN's meeting on Irma. He also excluded Inner City Press from information about his "background" briefing on UN General Assembly week. Here's Dujarric's Irma e-mail, with invitees: "From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 3:57 PM
Subject: Media Advisory: Meeting on Hurricane Irma
Meeting on Hurricane Irma United Nations, 15 September 2017 — On 18 September 2017, the President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajèák, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. António Guterres, will co-host a High-Level Meeting on Hurricane Irma at United Nations Headquarters. The meeting will be an opportunity to draw political attention to the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. It will aim to increase solidarity with those affected and highlight the need for building communities that are more resilient to natural disasters and climate change. Information will also be shared on what is being done at the national, regional and global levels to respond to the disaster. The event will bring together United Nations Member States, United Nations agencies and other relevant stakeholders. WHAT High-Level Meeting on Hurricane Irma WHO expected speakers to include:
·        H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajèák, President of the General Assembly
·        H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General
·        H.E. Mr. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
·        H.E. Mr. Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas
·        H.E. Mr. Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
·        The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom
·        Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
·        Mr. Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
·        Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Development Association, World Bank  WHEN Monday, 18 September; 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT WHERE: Trusteeship Council Chamber HOW: There is limited seating at the event. UN journalists wishing to cover it can request special passes from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.  External print journalists must register here by 4pm EDT on Friday, 15 September" - this is, in three minutes...


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