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On Gaza, UN Envoy Has No Casualty Figures, "Not Aware," No Comment on LRA from Congo to CAR

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

UNITED NATIONS, January 2 -- The defensiveness of the UN knows no bounds. At the end of a week that began with the UN implying that all men killed by air strikes in Gaza were combatants, on Friday UN envoy Robert Serry told the Press he didn't have any more casualty figures. Inner City Press asked if Serry had played any role in the UN's conflation of "civilians" with woman and children. "I'm not aware of that," Serry said.

  But Inner City Press' sources describe the phrase over "sixty civilians" being dropped from Ban Ki-moon's prepared remarks on December 31, just before the Security Council meeting, and being replaced by "over sixty women and children." If Serry is in fact "not aware," then he is not in the loop.

  And where is Tony Blair, envoy of the Quarter of which the UN is a part? How does his mandate differ from that of Mr. Serry?

UN's Serry behind John Holmes: one said "62 civilians," the other "not aware"

  Also defensive is the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Inner City Press followed up on a new report citing an OCHA email report about civilians -- including men -- killed in the Congo, reportedly by the Lord's Resistance Army, and asked why this email report hadn't been sent our more widely. The response from Kinshasa:

"Sir -- the information attributed to OCHA in the Bloomberg article that you are referring to is based on an official OCHA situation report which was distributed nationally and internationally via our comprehensive distribution lists. The report was put on reliefweb at the same time."

  But OCHA's distribution list does not seem that comprehensive. A request for UN comment on reports that "remnants of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army are fleeing towards Central African Republic," including what if anything the UN system is doing to try to protect civilians, was not responded to.  Moves are afoot to get responses. Watch this site.

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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