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UN Abductions in Pakistan, Like Fowler's in Niger, Shrouded in Security Secrets, Selective Disclosures

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- As the UN maintained its silence on the disappearance  of its Canadian envoy Robert Fowler in Niger on December 13, Monday it shielded another abduction in secrecy, that of John Solecki, an American representative of the UN refugee agency in Quetta, Pakistan, during which another UN employee, Syed Hashim, was killed.  Three days after reporting the background statement of a Permanent Five Ambassador of the UN Security Council that Fowler "is alive," Inner City Press asked the UN to confirm that is its understanding. "I have nothing further to add," UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe said. "As soon as I have news I'll let you know." Video here, from Minute 22:08.

  But Ms. Okabe's associate Farhan Haq was quoted in the Canadian press that Ban Ki-moon met with Fowler's wife Mary, a piece of news that was never said at a noon briefing nor conveyed to Inner City Press or others. Inner City Press on Monday asked if Ban had met with the families of Louis Guay or driver Soulmania Mounkaila.  Despite Haq's on the record comment as to Fowler, Ms. Okabe did not answer about the other two.

  Regarding Quetta, Inner City Press asked what the UN's security phase is. "That's not something we'd make public," Ms. Okabe said. Video here, from Minute 21:55.

As in Niger, an empty white UN vehicle, security after the fact

 But the phase in Quetta was disclosed in an October 2008 news article which stated that

"recommendations enhancing the Security Phase were sent to the UN headquarters in New York. They said the Pakistani authorities concerned tried to convince the UN not to enhance the Security Phase in Pakistan, as it would hurt the status of the country internationally. But they failed to convince the UN headquarters and the secretary-general eventually approved enhancing the security phase in some parts of Pakistan from phase-II to phase-III. A senior UN official, when contacted by The News, said following the declaration of Security Phase-III in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, nine districts of Balochistan, including the provincial capital Quetta, the spouses and children of the international staff of the UN would be required to be relocated temporarily."

What security did Messrs. Solecki and Hashim have?

What was and is the UN Security phase in Niger?

Why was there no UN security with Fowler and his two companions as they traveled through Niger?

The questions pile up, and the UN stays silent.

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

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.

* * *

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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