UN Dodges on Sri Lanka and Congo,
Burma, Kosovo and Afghanistan
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: Media Analysis
NATIONS, January 28 -- On
hotspots ranging from Sri Lanka to the Congo,
Afghanistan through Kosovo to
Burma, the United Nations' communications strategy appears to be to
good news, or news that makes the UN itself look good, and then refuse
answer questions. Wednesday at the UN's noon briefing Deputy
Okabe claimed that press releases she had read out loud about Sri Lanka
Congo answered unrelated and more difficult questions. Video here,
from Minute 15:04.
Inner City Press asked
for confirmation or denial that UN national staff members were fired at
Sri Lankan government, a senior advisor to which Ban Ki-moon met with
this week. Ms. Okabe said she had read a statement on Sri Lanka. But
statement was unrelated, blaming the Tamil Tigers for not letting
people flee. Video here,
from Minute 5:15. Did the government, with whom Ban Ki-moon just met,
fire on UN
staff? She would not say.
Likewise on the Congo, where the UN spends $2
billion a year, Inner City
Press asked for confirmation or denial of reports that the integration
CNDP rebels into the Congolese army, already praised as good news by
in fact been postponed. Okabe said she had read a statement, and
Inner City Press for missing it. But the statement dealt only with the
belatedly being allowed to play a role in the joint Congolese - Rwandan
on a different rebel group, the FDLR. Just because a country is
the UN, most often in a light flattering to the organization, doesn't
questions have been answered.
Wednesday's noon briefing, 14 of Ms. Okabe's 18 minutes were devoted to
reading out press releases. Video here.
UN's Marie Okabe, central, in TV appearance,
non-answers not shown
The previous day, Okabe had reneged on a commit to
take questions after
the UN system guest, Thoraya Obaid, had finished delivering her good
the day. Inner City Press afterwards
asked a simple question, for confirmation or denial of a quote by the
envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, that the UN Mission there will increase
1500 to 2000, with a budget rising from $81 million in 2008 to $150
2009. Twenty four hours later, no answer had been provided, so Inner
asked again. That's up to the General Assembly, Okabe said. Is that a
the UN's Kai Eide's quote? And why wasn't that answers, such as it is,
Inner City Press?
Another previously asked question, about Serbia's
protest to Ban Ki-moon
about a new Kosovo security force, was answered only be saying Ban
letter. Inner City Press asked on Wednesday, what was the response. I
have anything on that, Okabe said. When I do, it will be sent to you.
In other responses, on Thailand's
position that those fleeing Myanmar can
return without fear, Okabe referred to a week-old statement by
UNHCR. Video here,
from Minute 17:17. Okabe
said that what Ban Ki-moon thinks needs to be done in Gaza is clear, a
that many don't share, particularly as regards to the shifting calls
investigations, whether indepedent or by Israel. We'll have more on
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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