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As Eliasson Downplays Dadaab & Kakuma, Ban Family Ties, Blind Eyes?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 -- Many people, particularly those who stand to be most directly impacted, are worried about the Kenyan government's orders about the Dadaab and Kakuma camps. While the First World's approach to refugees and migrants impacts more, in Kenya it is said that the two camps' closure would diplace some 600,000 people.

   So when on May 9 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's report “In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” was presented by Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, Inner City Press asked Eliasson not only about the International Organization for Migration proposal in the report, but mostly about what the UN is doing about the situation on the Dadaab and Kakuma camps.

  Eliasson replied that “I just received information about that this morning. I don't think there is anything about turning back or sending back refugees... rather an organizational change inside the Kenyan government.” (Vine here, as Inner City Press is no longer able to practically download full UN video, after being BANned from its long time UN office, see below.)

  Many have since contacted Inner City Press angry and amazed at what Eliasson said, asking who could it be who told Eliasson and other UN leadership in New York not to take seriously or to downplay the threats to Dadaab and Kakuma? Some have asked about the UN's Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee -- who just happens to be Ban Ki-moon's son-in-law.

  In full disclosure - and possible explanation of Ban's role or "inaction" on Inner City Press' eviction from the UN -- Inner City Press has reported on Chatterjee in Kenya, and before that in Denmark and in Iraq with Staffan de Mistura (this led, as with Ban's Alliance and Sri Lanka, to demands that information be removed from the Internet). This is the UN's Censorship Alliance.

As in the Sri Lanka case, if there is something to add - for example, if Chatterjee has in fact pushed back against the Dadaab and Kakuma orders -- Inner City Press will be happy to publish it.

Long after the May 9 noon briefing, delay due to Ban's eviction of Inner City Press from its office and high-speed line, here's video:

   Eliasson asked if anything had been presented by Spokesman Stephane Dujarric. It hasn't; Inner City Press has noted that Dujarric blocks it on Twitter.

 That must have been some Monday morning UN briefing, at which the situation in Dadaab and Kukuma was so dramatically downplayed. Is today's UN living in a dream world or an echo chamber?

When Inner City Press on February 19 was told to leave the UN on two hours notice, after covering the organization for ten years, it came as a surprise. But now we know some of what happened behind the scenes.

The incident used as a pretext in the ouster letter signed by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press' attempt to cover a January 29 event in the UN Press Briefing Room which was nowhere listed as closed, was the type of principled disagreement about journalistic rights that led Inner City Press to refuse an order to leave a briefing by French President Francois Hollande ostensibly only for the traveling French press.

Inner City Press wasn't thrown out then. But something had and has changed.

  While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, when asked about the ouster, said “That is not my decision,” those close to him say that this crackdown on the Press was discussed at a meeting of Ban's senior leadership team.

   Ban's waning tenure at the UN is embroiled in scandal not only of peacekeeper rapes under Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous but more dangerously for Ban the scandal of bribery at the UN by Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, of former President of the General Assembly John Ashe and members of Ban's Secretariat.

    The Office of Internal Oversight Services audit occasioned by the indictment of Ng, Ashe and others who had since pleaded guilty, including Francis Lorenzo of South South News which still under Gallach has its UN office, named Gallach as negligent, at best. See audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b).

 Gallach did no due diligence in allowing Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation to hold a corrupt event in the UN Visitors Lobby, with Ban present. Gallach did no due diligence of Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation sponsoring the UN's slavery memorial.

   Gallach, who had found that some under her in the Department of Public Information whom she had ordered to sign the ouster letter refused to, said that Inner City Press had broken the rules and norms. As time has gone on, she had been unable to specify which rules - in fact, when directly asked she refused to provide a copy of the rule she claims to be relying on.

  Ban heard about the impending ouster of Inner City Press... and did nothing. His supporters point out to Inner City Press that Ban also did not speak in favor of it. We'll have more on this.

   Spain on the other hand, which got Gallach the position, has as part of the leverage it has as a Security Council member during the selection of the next Secretary General decided to drop Gallach and seek to put a different Spanish official in a different, more substantive post: the Office of Disarmament, current run by Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo (who, when asked about the ouster of Inner City Press and how it makes Ban looks, said only, “You have to talk with Cristine”).

   But even if Spain which unwisely put the under-qualified Gallach in the DPI position now sees the error of its ways, the reality is that Ban Ki-moon's UN, in the midst of a corruption scandal, ousted and evicted the critical Press which is pursuing the story.

   As Inner City Press learned more about how Gallach got the position, and how she (mis) used it, the retaliation grew - to the point of throwing Inner City Press' files in the street on April 16, video here. Next, Gallach's staff tore down the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of Room S-303, which opposes censorship, and have until now ignored Inner City Press' formal request regarding its office in S-303. Others said it was on hold, despite French and Moroccan moves. But Gallach is getting more and more desperate and retaliatory, and Ban still claims, despite the above, “That is not my decision.” We'll have more on all this.


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