Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Dodges on Sri Lanka and Congo, Burma, Kosovo and Afghanistan

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

UNITED 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 focus on good news, or news that makes the UN itself look good, and then refuse to answer questions. Wednesday at the UN's noon briefing Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe claimed that press releases she had read out loud about Sri Lanka and the 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 by the Sri Lankan government, a senior advisor to which Ban Ki-moon met with earlier this week. Ms. Okabe said she had read a statement on Sri Lanka. But the statement was unrelated, blaming the Tamil Tigers for not letting injured 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 of the CNDP rebels into the Congolese army, already praised as good news by the UN, has in fact been postponed. Okabe said she had read a statement, and chided Inner City Press for missing it. But the statement dealt only with the UN belatedly being allowed to play a role in the joint Congolese - Rwandan assault on a different rebel group, the FDLR. Just because a country is mentioned by the UN, most often in a light flattering to the organization, doesn't mean that questions have been answered.

   At 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 news of the day.  Inner City Press afterwards asked a simple question, for confirmation or denial of a quote by the UN's envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, that the UN Mission there will increase from 1500 to 2000, with a budget rising from $81 million in 2008 to $150 million in 2009. Twenty four hours later, no answer had been provided, so Inner City Press asked again. That's up to the General Assembly, Okabe said. Is that a denial of the UN's Kai Eide's quote? And why wasn't that answers, such as it is, sent to 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 received the letter. Inner City Press asked on Wednesday, what was the response. I don't 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 position that many don't share, particularly as regards to the shifting calls for investigations, whether indepedent or by Israel. We'll have more on this.

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.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -