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 -e.g. Somalia, Nepal, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia  For further info, 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

In Post-Hurricane Haiti, UN Peace Team Works on Prisons from Hotel, UNDP Takes Fees

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

UNITED NATIONS, October 10 -- The UN in Haiti in the wake of a season of hurricanes has morphed from a peacekeeping to a humanitarian mission, if working on the country's prisons, for example, can be considered humanitarian.  Hedi Annabi, previously the UN's Deputy Chief of Peacekeeping, is now the UN Envoy in Haiti. Friday he told the Press that post-hurricanes, Haiti is "like a war zone."  Inner City Press asked about the relation between peacekeeping and humanitarian work, and specifically about Haitian jails, in which inmates were trapped with rising water after the hurricanes. Video here, from Minute 27:31.

   Annabi said that the UN is working with Haiti to expand the space per prisoner in Port au Prince from 0.5 square meters to the international minimum standard 2.5 square meters. Currently in the Port au Prince prison, inmates cannot lie down to sleep, in scene reminiscent of post-genocide jails in Rwanda.  Annabi said on camera that "a donor" is paying to refurbish an only psychiatric hospital into a jail; afterwards, he told Inner City Press that the donor is Canada, for some $800,000.

  Other parts of the UN system pay for, and collect fees from, these Haitian prison projects. Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the Peacebuilding Fund, headed by another ex-peacekeeper, Jane Holl Lute, to describe, explain and account for the UN PBF's funding of jails and military barracks in Haiti and elsewhere.

Hedi Annabi, in shades, in Haiti, prisons and UNDP fees not shown

  Some weeks later the spokesman of the PBF responded:

"The PBF supported project, with an allocation of US$800,000, reinforces efforts in dealing public safety concerns and risk posed by poor security at the overcrowded Port au Prince's penitentiary.  PBF support complements Haiti's post-conflict and peacebuilding efforts to rehabilitate State institutions and revive economic growth and development.  Improving security and the battle against gang-related violence, continue to present great challenges especially given the frailty of the State and its institutions.

 While reforms of the police and judicial system have made progress with other donors support, advances in the fight against the criminal gangs and the general reduction in violence will help Haiti to re-embark on the path to peace and sustainable development.  It is in this context that vigorous efforts, including the PBF interventions, are being made to help the country avoid receding into anarchy and violence. 

  It also has strategic leverage (as a key input in efforts to deal with rampant criminality) and catalytic role (complements other donor peacebuilding efforts) that the intervention can make.  This PBF effort complements ongoing donor efforts, e.g. Canada that has invested and equipped the Haitian police and supports Community Safety Programs to help improve security in communities most affected by the criminal gangs."

  Inner City Press also asked the Peacebuilding Fund spokesman about fees charged by the UN Development Program, a topic on which UNDP has for months refused to answer. PBF discloses:

The PBSO (as the UN Secretariat entity established to manage the PBF) signed an MOU in November 2006 with UNDP’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund Office (MDTF Office) to be the Administrative Agent/Fund Manager of the Fund with fiduciary responsibilities.  PBSO has retained control over the programmatic aspects of the Fund. Under this MOU, MDTF deducts direct costs related to the PBSO implementation of activities related to the overhead budget, and aims to ensure global and national fund management capacity.  The signed MOU stipulates that the total management fee of the Fund (including programme implementation and fund management) should not exceed 11 per cent of the total amount of the fund, broken down as follows: 

·                     1 per cent - UNDP/MDTF Office Administrative Agent fee;

·                     7 per cent as agreed by all UNDG organizations for activities under Multi-donor Trust Funds as indirect costs of PBF Recipient Organizations, and

·                     3 per cent as the balance for PBF and PBSO related other overhead costs.  Overhead costs cover activities related to PBF support such as personnel, mission travel, consultants, workshops, equipment and establishment of country-level technical units.

  There are other extensive overhead costs of the UN system in Haiti, not least the rental of a former hotel in Port au Prince. After weeks of waiting, DPKO finalize provided the following:

"the main MINUSTAH headquarters complex (The Christopher Hotel) is rented directly from a private individual (Dr. Gerard Desir) at the rate of $3.86 per square meter. The total complex is 24,383 square meters which includes parking, office space, pre-fab office space, canteen and conference space. The total monthly rent is thus $94,000. Please note that this does not include the MINUSTAH logbase, which is located on a plot of land provided at no cost by the Haitian Government. The decision to select the Hotel Christopher was based on a locally-completed analytical process which determined that this facility was one of the few premises in Port au Prince which would meet the Mission's requirements with regards to space, water and power . It is also in a neighbourhood that was judged in 2004 to be among the safest in Port au Prince."

   Beyond all these hard-won numbers, we are left with the question of the transition from a peacekeeping mission, not to peacebuilding, but emergency humanitarian. As Annabi said, such aid is needed. But is DPKO the right agency to be coordinating it?

Footnote: And why does UNDP take such high fees for other people's work? This UNDP "tax" issue was raised by another question to Annabi, about the IBSA (India Brazil South Africa) Trust Fund project for waste management in Haiti.  These three countries got together to fund forward looking project. But why through UNDP? And how much in fees does UNDP take?  We're still waiting for disclosure of the fees UNDP took for handling $1 million from George Soros' Open Society Institute to Georgia's top officials, including President Saakashvili. Perhaps that too was considered peacekeeping...

Footnote: Catch this reporter on Icelandic television,

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs.

* * *

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] -