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At UN, Questions on Sudan, Sri Lanka & Haiti Left Unanswered Amid Free Lunch & Happy Talk, No Q&A

By Matthew Russell Lee, News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- Rather than answer questions, the UN tries to fill the time of Q&A with Pollyanna information about which the press corps has no questions or apparently interest. Outside, a free lunch is served, as if to guarantee attendance. To this has the UN been reduced.

  On November 19, the noon briefing was truncated with only a handful of questions allowed by acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq -- despite riots against the UN in Haiti, and funding reversals for the Southern Sudan referendum vaguely acknowledged in UN reports -- so that a press conference could be held about the UN's role in industrial development in Africa.

  After two statements were read out, not a single question was asked by the journalists in attendance, in a briefing room with two chairs roped off due to bed buds.

  Moments later a free lunch was served, apparently this was the inducement for attendance if not questions. But what questions could be asked?

  In fact, the UN has been chased out of Chad, and increasingly out of the Congo and Nepal. There are riots against the UN in Haiti -- not unrelated to Nepal -- and hearings being scheduled for next year in the US House of Representatives.

  Here are two sample questions long left unanswered though submitted in writing to the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General, another time that they canceled their noon briefing:

1) On Darfur, some question why JMAC data is not on UNAMID's web site, some say it is routinely and selectively leaked. Please respond, and whether these figures include Tarabat market.

2) Please confirm or deny that staff of Mr. Deng's Prevention of Genocide office are asked to work on his books, quantify what amount of time and whether this complies with UN rules, and if the books should be attributed to the UN.

  This last question has actually been asked three times without answer, as have questions about the Secretary General's links with Sri Lanka and its leadership, which Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky has said may never be answered.

  The Secretary General himself did a rare stakeout on November 18, but only read a statement, taking not a single question, even on the anti-UN riots and claims in Haiti. Then he left headquarters again.

UN's Ban & Akasaka on Nov 18, answers to questions not shown

   Simply going back the three UN working days so far this week, unanswered questions include reports of a deadly bombing in Darfur (asked Nov. 18), any follow up on the murder of UN staffer Louis Maxwell in Afghanistan (asked Nov. 16), bombing of South Sudan by Khartoum (asked Nov. 15) -- on which Haq said “we were trying to get some information, but we didn’t have a confirmation of that particular fighting. If we get any further details, including a confirmation, we’d have something.” And in the four days since, nothing.

  In the face of this, the UN quietly lent out the General Assembly for the filming of a scene of Transformers 3, and tonight holds a concert about its Academic Impact. Into what is the UN being transformed? Watch this site.

* * *

In Haiti, UN Fires Into Crowds, Says Its Only Focus Is Future, Not How Cholera Arrived

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 15 -- With protesters in Haiti still blaming the UN for the deadly cholera outbreak, and UN peacekeepers reportedly opening fire on the crowds, at UN headquarters on Monday Inner City Press asked the UN's interim humanitarian coordinator for Haiti Nigel Fisher why the UN had not acted to fully investigate reports of UN peacekeepers' roles in bringing or spreading the disease. Video here, from Minute 22:21.

My focus is on how to stop” the disease, Fisher replied. But even the UN's deputy special envoy Paul Farmer denounced this approach, call it more politics than science. Beyond being anti scientific, it appears in this case that the UN's attempts to brush off complaints and not fully investigate them has come back to haunt the UN, as suspicions have only grown.

Inner City Press asked when the last time cholera had been present in Haiti. “There has never before been cholera in Haiti,” Fisher answered.

Fisher characterized as “political manipulation” the claims by the Mayor of Mirebalais that the disease may have come from the UN Peacekeeping base there, staffed by peacekeepers from Nepal. But the Centers for Disease Control, even Fisher acknowledged Monday, said the strain is a strain which originated in South Asia.

Nigel Fisher by video, facts on MINUSTAH role not shown, (c) MRLee

Some in the UN system say that even looking into the role of the peacekeepers from Nepal is somehow racist. But political correctness can lead to riots in which UN peacekeepers are shooting into crowds of Haitians. Which is worse? Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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

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

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