UN, Misdirection on Census in Iraq and Congo, of Kirkuk and the Kivus
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 25 -- The UN helps countries like Iran, Liberia and
the Congo conduct their census, but glosses over the tough questions.
On February 25 Inner City Press asked Nuha Al-Sharma, Executive
Census Director of Iraq's
COSIT, if the October census will take into
account the two or more rounds of ethnic cleansing around Kirkuk and
its oil fields, regarding Kurds. Video here,
from Minute 42:45.
ethetic data," she responded. This seemed to mean no "ethnic"
data. But after the briefing, UNFPA's Mr. Luay Shabaneh confirmed
that the census will ask if a person is Kurdish, Turkenman or Arab.
He said a curfew will be announced, then people counted in their
homes, with fingerprinting is necessary. So why wasn't that said
during the briefing?
Press asked the DR Congo's Gregoire Kankwanda Ebuleland is the census
there will count FDLR rebels from Rwanda, he bristled that
"outsiders" often "do not have good information."
He insisted that there are only "pockets" of resistance in
asked Paul Cheung the director of the Statistics Division of UNDESA
if the UN would be helping Haiti with a census, given the current
failure to even register the birth of children. No, he said, Haiti
has not asked for help.
UN flies census materials, Sudan 2008: straight
answers not shown
listed as the moderator of the press conference, but no one seemed to
have organized anything. The Liberian representative Edward Liberty
droned on for fifteen minutes -- who could stop him?
Gregoire Kankwanda Ebuleland spoke only in French, although no
translation was provided. After he finished -- and Inner City Press
asked its question in French -- Mr. Cheung asked, does anyone need
translation? It was classic UN -- unrealistically upbeat, badly
organized, barely covered and thus unaccountable. And yet here is
* * *
Iraq, UN's Melkert Silent on Blackwater and Black Balling of Baath
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 16 -- What does the UN's top envoy to Iraq, Ad
Melkert, have to say about the acquittal and impunity for the
mercenaries of Blackwater now Xe who killed Iraqi civilians? "That
is a specific case," Melkert told Inner City Press on Tuesday at
the UN, "we don't advise on specific cases." Video here,
from Minute 11:34.
asked Melkert about a range of human rights issues in Iraq, from
honor killings to executions to freedom of the press. Melkert said
his Office, UNAMI, issues human rights reports every six months,
"critical on several of the issues you mentioned." Video here,
from Minute 6:03.
how can the UN
be critical if, as Melkert claimed about Blackwater, the UN "doesn't
advise on specific cases?"
right now is, like Kai Eide's was in Afghanistan, to try to make
national elections appear credible. Inner City Press asked him about
barred candidate Saleh Mutlak, who has been told he cannot run for
office because he was a member of the Baath party. Mutlak says he
quit in 1977, and was only goaded into saying he was still a member.
grounds for exclusion "legitimate," and said the UN only
advocates for transparency in the application of the rules, citing
Iraq's "Accountability and Justice Law of 2008." While
speaking about reconciliation, Melkert said that excluding former
Baath party members is similar to what happened in Europe "after
the Communist regimes."
Melkert told Inner City Press that the UN "has a permanent
position against the death penalty" -- one that Ban Ki-moon
backtracked on during his first day in office, on the subject of Iraq
-- when Melkert was asked about the execution of former Baath party
members, he replied, "I could not take your point on that, the
way you formulated it, so I could not comment further."
Melkert and his less than democratic guards in Baghdad
away from the microphone, Inner City Press asked him if he now agrees
with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call that senior UN system
officials make some minimum public disclosure of their finances.
Melkert laughed and said, "You see that I" -- then signed
his name in the air. "What is good is that you don't forget."
he was the
Associate Administrator of UNDP, he came out publicly against Ban's
call for financial disclosure. Video
from Minute 37:55 through 44:41. He also said, on UN
ain't seen nothing yet." Inner City Press recounted this history
for a Dutch television station tailing and filming Melkert for the
day. Another correspondent criticized Melkert go along [to] get along
performance in Iraq, wondering what next job he might have his eye
Many in the
UN grumble that Melkert "chased" fellow UN
official Ibrahim Gambari out of Iraq. Now it's his show, for better
or worse. Watch this site.