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With UN Aflutter for Queen, Respects to Killed Staff, Of Families Not Compensated

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 6 -- The UN was all aflutter Tuesday for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II. More than a half an hour early in the General Assembly, Ambassadors from Pakistan, Chad and Sri Lanka, among others, assembled to hear her Highness.

The Queen was set to stop and view the tattered flag from the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, where UN staff were killed by a truck bomb. At the noon briefing before the Queen's arrival, Inner City Press asked the UN's Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm or deny what Staff Union officials say, that the families of national staff killed in the bombing have yet to be compensated. Haq said that he would check.

The Queen, it was predicted, would call for world peace.

Queen on way to New York, tattered flag and compensation not shown

 The Pope had done something similar in the same venue and not long ago. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, too, had spoken on this podium, to a packed house. Would it be as full for the Queen? Watch this space

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At UN, UK's Mitchell on Lack of Ethiopian Entrepreneurs, Ogaden Constituents

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 28 -- The new UK government has cut all aid to China and Russia, while contrasting the entrepreneurial spirit of Somalis with the lack of such drive in Ethiopia. This Inner City Press gleaned in ten minutes of questioning of David Cameron's minister for International Development Andrew Mitchell on Monday, on topic ranging from North Korea to Gaza to corruption. Video here, from Minute 4:33.

  Inner City Press began by asking about Mitchell's review of the UK's existing aid programs, to China and also the UN Development Program, which maintains programs in China, North Korea and Myanmar. Mitchell maintained that the “best” approach is budget support to governments, but only if you can trust them.

  He said reviews of “multilateral agencies” have begun. One wonders: if the UK has cut aid to China, will it cut aid to UNDP which spend in China? Or will it earmark it aid, to only some countries?

  Mitchell went out of his way to praise the governments of Ghana and Rwanda. One wonders if the latter doesn't further the UK's move to “take” Rwanda away from the Francophonie. Because the UK's own BBC over the weekend reported how Hutu refugees in Uganda are afraid to go home, based on how they are treated -- with UK aid funds?

UK's Mitchell, Ogaden constituents not shown, hats off

On camera, Inner City Press finished with a question about the UN “Gender Entity,” and the controversy about Syria's language on women under occupation. Mitchell jumped right in, saying that Gaza is troubling and the lifting of restrictions is heartening.

As he left the stake out, he greeted Inner City Press and mentioned reading it. With cameras off but still on record, he explained the David Cameron left people in posts for five years, to really learn their jobs. He said he visited 38 poor countries and produced a “green paper.”

Our conclusion is, he said, that conflict is what mires people in poverty. A country with entrepreneurs is not poor.

Inner City Press mentioned the entrepreneurialism of the Somalis. Yes, Mitchell said, contrasting it with Ethiopia, where he said the “sinews” of government are good, but where “perhaps because of Ethiopian history, there is not history of entrepreneurship.”

Inner City Press asked about the Ogaden region. “I have a large Ogaden constituency near me,” Mitchel said. Then why did he so fulsomely praise the sinews of Meles Zenawi's government? Perhaps we'll get an answer. Mitchell's candor was, to paraphrase something he said, a breath of fresh air.

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On Myanmar, UNDP's Clark Blames Poverty on Politics, UK Defends Sanctions, UNDP Conflict of Interest in N.Korea?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- Building the capacity of governments, even dictatorships and military regimes, is the approach taken the UN Development Program. Thursday Inner City Press asked UNDP Administrator Helen Clark to explain what she meant that because "'political factors' restrict what the UNDP can do in Myanmar.. 'it's not so easy to make progress there at this time' on the Millennium Development Goals.

  Ms. Clark backtracked, saying that it's not UNDP's restricted action in Myanmar that's to blame, its the politics of aid donors-- apparently meaning, sanctions. Clark emphasized that Myanmar gets the least development aid per capita of any country, including North Korea. "Politics," she said, "has been a complicating factor." Video here, from Minute 32:28.

    Well, yes. The government of General Than Shwe has dissolved the NLD party of Aung San Suu Kyi, and has stacked the upcoming election for military connected candidates. Is this the government whose capacity UNDP seeks to build?

UK's Lyall Grant at right hand of Helen Clark, regimes not shown

   UK Ambassador Lyall Grant jumped in to say that the sanctions only "target the regime" in what he called Burma.

The UN's Children and Armed Conflict envoy Radhika Coomaraswamy has said that Myanmar entirely stopped working toward an action plan on child soldiers, in the run up to the election. Inner City Press stopped Myanmar's Ambassador to the UN outside the Security Council on June 16 and asked why the country has stopped. The Ambassador insisted that his government works closely with Ms. Coomaraswamy, and wants to be take off her list of recruiters. Perhaps UNDP would support this?

Inner City Press also asked Ms. Clark about UNDP's role in the security sector in Somalia, where the government has been exposed as using 20% child soldiers. "We do not train soldiers," Clark answered. "We are nowhere near that one." Not so fast. UNDP has provided funds for training TFG security; the dispute has been how much they spend. We aim to have more on this.

Footnote: When UNDP re-opened its North Korea program and website, it listed Mr. Vijay Thapa as International Finance Officer. A whistleblower asks, isn't this a conflict of interest since Mr. Thapa has been Finance Officer in DPR Korea since 2003, therefore four years before the discovery of counterfeit? Mr Thapa is among those UNDP Staff of DPR Korea whom declined to talk to US Southern District Attorney on counterfeit and he is part of the "old cast" of UNDP DPRK management responsible for the wrong doings. One wonders, was the appointment of Mr. Thapa a request from DPR Korean Government ? Is this more capacity building?

 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.

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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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