UN Is Denied Access to Areas But Stays Silent, Won't Urge Acceptance of
August 19 -- Amid the fundraising for flooded Pakistan on
August 19, world Humanitarian Day, the politicization of the UN's
operations also became clear.
The UN's Martin Mogwanja provided a
telephone briefing, in which Inner City Press asked about top UN
Holmes' recent statement about parts of the country
to which the UN had no access. Video here,
from Minute 33:41.
insisted that the government has full control of all areas of the
country, how did this square with Holmes statement, and for example
the U.S. drone stikes in North Waziristan?
these were not contradictory, that the government has “full
control” of all areas, but blocks the UN's access due to its
whether the government can be said to control sealed off areas into
which another country fires drone missiles, one wonders why the UN
has not complained publicly about the denial of humanitarian access,
as it complains elsewhere.
asked Mogwanja, as the UN humanitarian coordinator, for his view on
Pakistan's refusal until now of a $5 million offer of aid from India.
Given Mogwanja's and Holmes' statements about humanitarian needs
trumping politics, one expected an answer along the lines of, “aid
should generally be taken, when people are facing death.”
replied that “each government is free to decided what to
contribute, equally each government is free to decide what it will
accept.” He called it a decision for sovereign governments, nor for
a UN humanitarian coordinator.
role of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to
publicly prioritize civilians needs over the dilatory politics of
UN's Ban in Pakistan, denial of humanitarian access not shown
asked about Ban Ki-moon's envoy to Pakistan Jean Maurice Ripert.
Mogwanja insisted that Ripert had returned from his overseas travels
“as soon as the flood took place.”
so. From July
29 -- the date Mogwanja used -- to August 4, Ripert was AWOL. On
August 2, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman where Ripert was.
It's not about an individual, spokesman Martin Nesirky answered. On
August 4, Ban called for Ripert to return to Pakistan. That is one
week, hardly “as soon as.”
in the coming weeks and months the government of Pakistan will hold
events closely coordinated by Ripert. We'll see - watch this site.
* * *
UN Ban Trip Follows Kashmir Flip Flop, Echoes Ripert vs Holmes
on JuD &
Post Nargis Myanmar
NATIONS, August 15, updated -- Amid the human tragedy of the floods in
Pakistan, the presence of politics, like the belated UN trip, cannot
be missed. Today UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his entourage
have flown aboard a Pakistani military aircraft and told the media
that the world has been too slow to respond. But, as one questioner
pointed out, so has the UN.
Ban in his Pakistan press conference said
that "I have dispatched my Special Envoy for Pakistan, Mr. Ripert,
immediately." But back
2 -- that is, two weeks ago -- Inner City Press asked
City Press: on Pakistan, just a quick follow-up. Where’s Mr.
[Jean-Maurice] Ripert in all this? I mean, he’s the humanitarian
coordinator for Pakistan. What’s been his role, particularly in
light of the floods?
Nesirky: I think you’ll find the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for
Pakistan is Martin Mogwanja.
City Press: I guess I’m just trying to understand more his role as
special envoy — is it a full-time job, and what’s he been doing
since the floods?
Spokesperson: Let me find out, but you can
see and hear there’s a lot of
activity going on.
Question: Mr. Ripert, is he leaving now,
Spokesperson: Let me find out. We’re kind
of focused on less on an individual
and more on up to a million people who are displaced and in need of
City Press: Not to be overly focused on one, but since the UN does
have this humanitarian role, I think we both want to know…
Spokesperson: Yes, and I said I’ll find
ever explaining where the UN's envoy on Pakistan was as the floods
grew worse and worse, two days later, Nesirky read out a statement by
Ban calling on Ripert to go to Pakistan. (Nesirky would accompany Ban
to Pakistan on Aug 15, after a particularly defensive and controlling
noon briefing on Aug 13, during which he tried to shut down questions
ranging from Gaza to author Tom Plate's statements that Ban will be the
third subject in his "Giants of Asia" series. Nesirky
insisted no commitment had been made, but sarcastically
the Press might have a crystal ball.)
Ripert did belatedly head to Pakistan, and
has among other
the danger of aid being provided by groups such
as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, considered a front for Lashkar-e-Toiba.
week later, Inner City Press asked Pakistan's Permanent
Representative to the UN Abdullah Hussain Haroon if it was useful to
his country to have a UN Special Envoy like Jean-Maurice Ripert, who
was given the job after Nicholas Sarkozy replaced him with Gerard
than another job in the French foreign service, a UN job was invented
for Ripert. Most say he has accomplished little, and that he tried to
“get out” by applying for the top job for the UN in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, which he failed to get.
August 11, Pakistan's Ambassador Haroon spoke dismissively in context
of Ripert, saying “he was sent by the S-G... He is basically there
on the S-G's orders, we thank him for being there but things were
already being coordinated.” Video here,
wondered: was this strikingly dismissive answer based on the lack of
need for or use of Ripert's UN position, or on his comments on
Islamic extremist groups, against which his nation's president
Nicholas Sarkozy has declared war?
UN's Ban in Pakistan, spox as Kilroy,
Ripert-Holmes split and Kashmir flipflop not shown
to Ambassador Haroon was outgoing top UN humanitarian John Holmes.
While also absent until then from humanitarian crises in not only
Pakistan but also Darfur, Holmes was and is more savvy politically
than Ripert. (In fairness we also note Holmes' belated but clear August
13 call for access to Darfur's Kalma Camp.)
City Press asked the two men about Ripert's claim that extremist
groups, by responding first to the floods, might spread their
ideology. Video here,
Minute 18:45. Are there area of Pakistan
not under government control due to armed conflict, or whatever
Islamabad is calling it these days?
stepped in front of Haroon, whose face had grown stern or serious
during the question. The UN must be above politics, Holmes
proclaimed, referring diplomatically to “ongoing hostilities,” a
term with fewer legal implications than “conflict,” which allows
inquiry into the recruitment of child soldiers, for example, an issue
in Pakistan on which the UN has done little.
said both that there are areas to which the UN has no access due to
fighting, then that the UN reaches all areas with aid. “Thank you,”
Haroon said, and the stake out was over.
The subtext was that Haroon
already criticized the UK's David Cameron for speaking of terrorism.
but also still UN Holmes took a different tack, different too from
Ripert's, and got thanked.
and Ripert, along with Ban's Indian chief of staff Vijay Nambiar,
accompanied Ban on August 15. Nambiar's nationality is relevant not
only due to the hostilities between India and Pakistan, but most
recently due to Nambiar's role in watering down a statement on behalf
of Ban's spokesperson about Kashmir. Click here
This was followed by news that Indian
troops were wearing UN blue helmets as they shot protesters in Kashmir,
and the UN's belated and seemingly incomplete reaction.
South Asian journalist disgusted by the UN's backing away from its
already bland statement on Kashmir harkened back to Ban's trip to
Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis, complete with craven supplication to
General Than Shwe who was allowed to steal up to 25% of aid money
through forced currency exchange games swept under the carpet by the
Team Ban cited the Myanmar trip as one of his major accomplishments,
even saying that Ban had thereby saved 500,000 people. The South
Asian journalist, made cynical by events such as the UN's
flip-flop, rhetorically asked Inner City Press, “how many people
will Ban claim to have saved this time, when what he is mostly trying
to save is his chance at a second term?”
Even Inner City Press is
disturbed by this level of cynicism, particularly when compared to the
desparate need of the Pakistani people. Watch this site.