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Questions About Jamaat ud Dawa and UN's Pakistan Aid in Mumbai's Wake

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 8 -- As arrests for the Mumbai massacre are being made at the Jamaat ud Dawa camp in Kashmir, questions have resurfaced about the UN's engagement with Jamaat ud Dawa following the October 2005 Pakistan earthquake. On October 6, 2006 Inner City Press asked then-UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric to address reports that the UN worked with both Jamaat ud Dawa and the Al Rashid Trust, on the UN's sanctions list. Mr. Dujarric said that the UN's focus is on working with and through group who can get aid to those who need it. Video here, from Minute 13:50.

   Inner City Press pursued the issue and published a report including a quote that UN "aid they got from international agencies - have really boosted their position locally. One Jamaat leader told us that people were now trusting them with their children - they hadn't before the earthquake - and they had actively recruited hundreds of children left orphaned."

  Days later on October 10, Inner City Press asked the UN's top humanitarian Jan Egeland about the reports. Egeland, who still works part-time with the UN, answered that "I'm sure we did cover people of many different beliefs and many different political orientations. We do not ask hungry people if they do have this or that political belief... But if you work in Kashmir, there will be people given aid who would belong to organizations which have fundamentalist beliefs." Video here, from Minute 46.

UN moves supplies into Kashmir in October 2005, Jamaat ud Dawa not shown

   As Inner City Press reported at the time, after the October 10, 2006 press briefing, supplemental answers were provided by one of Mr. Egeland's spokespeople, Kristen Knutson. Asked how, in the future, OCHA will try to ensure that it does not increase the influence of groups like the Al Rashid Trust by providing aid to camps they establish, Ms. Knutson insisted that "determining who can set up a camp is entirely up to governments of member states. And once a camp is open, OCHA and the UN will provide aid to the people in that camp."

   So now, what has been the UN's engagement with Jamaat ud Dawa? The UN's New York headquarters was closed for a holiday on Monday. The issue will continue to be pursued.

News analysis: Giving aid is good, but so is having standards, or at least being transparent about the lack of standards.

Footnote: to show that the issue cuts in many different ways, while Egeland said that the UN tries not to work with organization's whose principles vary from those of the UN, last week Inner City Press asked current UN spokesperson Michele Montas again about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's agreement with NATO, which was kept confidential and not pre-shown even to member states. While the UN is for the abolition of war, NATO is a military alignment that, among other things, does not oppose the use of nuclear weapons. So what are the UN's standards for engagements with groups? As we said, it cuts both ways.

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

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

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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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