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UN Ignores Corruption at UNMAS in Somalia & In-House, Sri Lanka Intimidation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 3 -- In its race for relevance on Syria, the UN on Tuesday canceled its normal noon briefing in deference to a staged "Press Encounter" by Ban Ki-moon at which he took only two questions, both on Syria.

  The UN spends most of its multi-billion dollar budget in Africa, but the Continent gets dropped like a hot potato (or yam) the moment Ban Ki-moon sees a change to be relevant on a more telegenic issue.

  The irony is that during the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday, the UN barely came up and when it did, US Secretary of State John Kerry was dismissive of Ban's chemical weapons investigation and its mandate (which the US helped to limit).

  On Africa -- DRC and Somalia -- Sri Lanka, access and lack of transparency, Inner City Press submitted some questions to Ban's two top spokespeople at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, a half hour before Ban's short press encounter, including:

1) please provide an update on fighting and any UN / MONUSCO involvement including as supporter in Kibumba or Mabenga or elsewhere in North Kivu.

2) is UN country team aware of, and what is UN doing about, report of Sri Lanka government harassment of those who met or tried to meet with UN High Commissioner Pillay, including but not limited to

Veerasan Yogeswaran, who runs the Centre for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, said five or six plainclothes policemen visited him at midnight and before dawn at his home in Trincomalee, just hours after the meeting with Pillay.

3) please state the status of the UNOPS investigation into complaints about lack of impartiality, sexual harassment etc at UN Mine Action Service and other UN in Mogadishu, and the current status of David Bax. [Redacted for now]

4) As brought up in the most recent briefing based on NYT profile, please provide a list of the S-G's golfing partners in the past year who are diplomats, and, separately, a summary of issues discussed.

Reiterating unanswered questions, such as on whether Jarba's appearance was properly called a "UN briefing," etc.

The Free UN Coalition for Access opposes the cancellation of the daily noon briefing, particularly for a short media encounter on a single subject. Other questions, particularly on the DRC and Great Lakes, should be answered.

By the end of the day -- in fact, by 7:30 pm on Tuesday -- only one of the questions had been answered, and thusly:

Subject: Your question on the DRC
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 3:11 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question on the Democratic Republic of the Congo: The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports no major fighting in the past few hours between the M23 and the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) in North Kivu province. The mission is closely monitoring the situation and remain on high alert to protect civilians.

We'll return to this. But what about Sri Lanka? What about Somalia? What about access to Ban, and the faux "UN briefing," etc? Watch this site.


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