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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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At UN, of Lebanon Camps and Bases, Mis-use of Schools and Rights Council, Activist Charged

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 8 -- In the aftermath of the battles in north Lebanon's Nahr al-Bared camp for Palestinian refugees, the UN agency in charge has built temporary housing and given rental vouchers. Inner City Press this week asked Karen Konig AbuZayd about criticism of UNRWA, and about the Klieaat military base just north of the refugee camp, reportedly being expanded by NATO and the United States. Ms. AbuZayd said that UNRWA was not allowed to use the base, even while refugees were fleeing the nearby camp; she added that she will be in the area this coming Sunday and should  know more. She said that the camp has been totally destroyed, and that UNRWA has built temporary housing and given rental subsidies. Video here, from Minute 46. UNRWA put out a $55 million appeal, and has received $20 million in pledges. She added that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have each pledged $20 million for Gaza.

            On reports of rocket fire from inside an UNRWA-run school, she said that after an Israeli incursion, the school and been emptied, then local militants used it. She said that UNRWA protests such use, as well as Israel using schools as places to conduct interrogations. This dovetailed with, or might have been included in, a UNESCO report issued this week, Education under Attack, which concerns attacks on teachers, students and school. Inner City Press asked the report's author why neither Somalia nor Pakistan were included in the study. Pakistan was on the cusp, and on Somalia there is "not enough data." Video here, report here.

UN Watch director falsely arrested, shown with Kofi Annan

            Israel's Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman strode to the Security Council microphone this week to denounce the UN Human Rights Council as a "monster," explaining Israel's call for a vote in the Third Committee. Inner City Press asked Amb. Gillerman for his views on Louise Arbour, regarding whom the NGO UN-Watch recently issued a scathing report. Amb. Gillerman was surprisingly positive about Arbour. Asked about UN rapporteur John Dugard's call for the UN to pull out of the Quartet, Gillerman disagreed, adding that just as it should not become a trio, neither should it be a quintet. Video here.

            Meanwhile the director of UN-Watch, the intrepid Hillel Neuer, was recently falsely arrested in Newton, Massachusetts in a pizzeria, during a manhunt for a murderer. He stopped in the restaurant's bathroom to change his clothes, and upon exiting the bathroom became a suspect. The charges have been dropped; attorneys are being consulted. Ah, human rights...

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Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540