Cash Hard to Come by in Gaza, Development Scarce as
Tony Blair Wears Too Many Hats, UNRWA Head Says
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
October 31 -- One way to try to
understand the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of
the West Bank is to, well, follow the money. UN Secretary-General Ban
himself had to call Israel's president to push to allow currency in, to
11,000 staff members of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
UNRWA chief Karen AbuZayd told the Press on Friday. Inner City Press
about reports that UNRWA is paying taxes to Israel, despite what are
privileges and immunities. Yes, Ms. AbuZayd said, we pay, to use the
taxes, to make claims, hoping to be paid back. Video here,
from Minute 49:31.
Inner City Press asked Ms. AbuZayd if she or Ban have pushed this tax
No, she said. Where else does the UN quietly pay taxes? The question
unanswered, although it is noted that Myanmar taking 20% of UN aid
through forced currency transactions is like a form of tax.
Press asked UNRWA's Ms. AbuZayd about the work of Tony Blair, UN envoy
among other things, $1 million a year consultant to JPMorgan Chase. Ms.
smiled and said "we want to see what more he could do with the many
he wears." Video here,
from Minute 42:17.
Ms. AbuZayd and Mr. Ban: they called about
salary, but apparently not taxes
It was a rare and appreciated burst of candor from
within the UN. The
question of what safeguards, if any, there are against Blair having a
of interest between being a UN envoy and an envoy of JPM Chase has yet
said that one top-ten donors to UNRWA has already said it will cut its
contributions in half, based on the global financial crisis. Pressed on
country that is, Ms. AbuZayd to her credit named names: Italy. This of
is precisely what Ban Ki-moon implored developed countries not to do.
may just be beginning.
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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