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Amos Takes Questions from UN Agencies, Ignores DRC Impartiality

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 – The day the UN hyped it up: top humanitarian Valerie Amos would answer questions on Tuesday, 9 am New York time before she briefed the Security Council at 10 am on Syria.

  But when the time came, Amos answered relatively few questions, clearly chosen to emphasize what she wanted – Syria, Turkey, even Haiti as a UN good news story – while ignoring longstanding questions about for example the decline in aid impartiality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the UN's new Intervention Brigade tasked with “neutralizing” particular groups.

  Amos' staged Q&A included taking questions from UN agencies like OCHA in Colombia and from UN Association for Wales. It is a waste of Q&A time for the UN to take questions from itself. But if one doesn't want to take or answer critical questions, that's how it goes: UNsocial media.

  Even on Central African Republic, where the EU has answered the Free UN Coalition for Access that the UN has a plan to send staff outside of Bangui. Amos only answered an easy question, saying she had just been there. But what's the plan? It shouldn't fall to the EU to say.

  Beyond making aid appeals, which large international non-governmental organizations can do, an important role of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at least in the past has been to stand up for impartiality and independence in aid delivery.

  In the case of Eastern Congo today, OCHA and Amos wouldn't even have to be on the look-out – Medecins Sans Frontieres and other groups have gone public with their complaints about the MONUSCO mission of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous blurs the lines of impartiality.

  Worse, MONUSCO publicly fired back, criticizing MSF. Where was OCHA? Nowhere to be seen. Inner City Press wrote and asked about it, and was first told archly on July 15 that OCHA had been consulted on a response that dodged MSF's complaint. Later a response of a sort came by Twitter, but no reply to a follow up question. Then Amos didn't address the issue.

It could be called the “Ladsousificiation” of the UN, in which officials beyond Ladsous either refuse or dodge questions, and openly take the political positions of “their” countries. Two road are diverging in a brook... Watch this site.


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