Doesn't Count Haitian Staff - But Treats Them Equally, Ban Says
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 14 -- A day after the UN's death
count of its
personnel in Port au Prince at first included a single Haitian staff
member, and then dropped the reference, on Thursday morning
General Ban Ki-moon dropped all reference to nationalities in his
count of the dead.
asked if the UN's national Haitian staff have been included in the
figures the UN has been giving out, not only of casualties but even
of how many people work for the UN.
that national staff are treated "equally," the figure
thrown around - that 11,000 people work for the UN's MINUSTAH mission
-- does not include the UN's national staff.
response to the
question, Ban referred to notes and said that the UN has 1200
national staff in Haiti. This compares to 490 international civilian
Ban left the
stakeout, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Martin Nesirky to
explain the UN's reporting of casualties. Nesirky said that the focus
has been on reporting to those with international interest.
UN's Ban at stakeout, national Haitian staff not in figures
He also said
that national staff who worked in the UN
headquarters in Port of Prince were somehow more likely to have
already have left the building for the day when the earthquake
struck. Video here.
he said, the
UN is going out to the listed home addresses of its national staff to
check on them. But will they now begin reporting the Haitians,
equally, in their public statements? Watch this site.
after Ban and his spokesman left the stakeout, another journalist --
not this one -- marveled that the UN would focus on internationals
and not Haitians, who are the people most impacted, and of most
interest to her as a journalist.
From the UN's January 14 transcript:
City Press: I understand that now you are saying that the nationality
of those killed will be given by the Spokesman. Yesterday it was
mentioned that a Haitian national was among those who were deceased,
and then in what you said yesterday evening, it wasn’t mentioned. Some
questions have arisen whether the numbers the UN is given
actually include the Haitians that are hired, the national staff.
What is the figure, or what are the procedures for checking how the
actual Haitian nationals employed in various functions for the UN are
Ban Ki-moon: In saving lives, there is no difference, no distinction
between international and national staff. We have 1,200 national
staff employed by the United Nations [in Haiti]. There seems to be
very much a difficulty in communicating with all the national staff.
Some of their houses have been affected. It is very difficult to
account for all the national staff. We are doing, on the same
principal: that we will try to save all the lives, without any
* * *
UN after Haiti Quake, Delivering Death News, Delayed Dispatch of
Deputy, Live Blogging UN Responses
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 13, updates below -- As news as UN casualties from
out -- four Brazilian, eight Chinese and three Jordanian peacekeepers
killed, head of mission Hedi Annabi missing -- at UN Headquarters
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his chiefs of Peacekeeping and
humanitarian affairs prepared to speak to the Press.
the lobby of
the nearly empty UN building, lights and microphones were set up.
Journalists milled around, asking for the dates of U.S. invasions of
Haiti. Mr. Ban had trailed not only U.S. President Barack Obama, but
even Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, in responding to the
earthquake Tuesday night. But now the UN was springing into action.
remain unanswered about whether the UN's headquarters in Haiti, for
which it has paid $94,000 a month, was MOSS (Minimum Operational
Safety Standard) compliant. Updates below
UN in Haiti, earthquake and safeguards not shown
Update of 8:49 a.m. -- after Mr.
Ban spoke, saying among other things he will send Peacekeeping Deputy
Edmond Mulet to Haiti "as early as Friday," a half dozen of his top
officials took to the microphone. One, however, stood off to the side:
Under Secretary General for Safety and Security Gregory Starr, in
charge of inspecting UN facilities for safety.
Inner City Press asked the group if the Hotel Christopher
was MOSS compliant, the way the UN assesses buildings' safety. The
question was never answered. Rather, Mr. Mulet said that other
buildings also collapsed, as if that meant that the question of UN
self-inspection, highlighted at least since the bombing and partial
collapse of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, didn't have to be answered.
of 9:10 a.m. -- While UNDP says that 38 staff, both national and
international, are so far unaccounted for, no numbers were given for
UNICEF or the World Food Program. Inner City Press asked humanitarian
chief John Holmes about these two agencies. He said the staff were
all fine, or mostly all fine. Later, off camera, Edmond Mulet told
Inner City Press that WFP has a warehouse, which did not collapse,
and is now secured by UN Peacekeepers, presumably to prevent looting.
asked DPKO Alain Le Roy what role the UN Peacekeepers will play in
keeping public order. Le Roy referred to first helping at Hotel
Christopher, then securing other UN buildings, then patrolling the
late 2009, UN
Peacekeepers fired live ammunition when they thought a crowd was
approaching a downed UN helicopter. It was explained to Inner City
Press that UN Police use rubber bullets, while the Peacekeepers use
live rounds. Le Roy said the UN has 3000 "Peacekeepers" on
Port au Prince.
the UN lobby, Inner City Press asked him directly what the terms of
engagement would be for UN Peacekeepers, referencing rubber bullets
or live ammo. We haven't discussed that, Mulet said. And then he was
By the UN's
schedule, there is a "debate" -- in reality, a series of speeches -- in
the Security Council starting at 9:30 about "regional organizations."
for Inner City Press' story yesterday about the EU's power
play. It is anticipated that the Council's stakeout microphone will
be a venue for Haiti quake statements if not news Watch this space.
of 9:32 a.m. -- in front of the Security Council, a Chinese
is asked about reports on state media that eight Chinese peacekeepers
have been killed in Haiti. The diplomat doesn't appear to know,
saying first that they are okay, then that China has only a "small
delegation" in Haiti. One reporter groans.
Le Roy, on
his way in, declined to confirm the figure of eight Chinese dead, but
says that Peacekeeper deaths may be around twenty. In the UN
headquarters in Hotel Christopher, he says, were some 100 people.
Still no work from Mr. Annabi or his deputy.
of 10:26 a.m. -- on a Doctors Without Borders / MSF press
call, Inner City Press asks for any information about the UN
headquarters in the Christopher Hotel. MSF says the UN has been badly
damaged, MSF does not expect much help from the UN as they will have
to face their internal challenges. MSF says, unprompted, that it
cannot confirm how the top leadership of the UN in Haiti has been
impacted. But Inner City Press may have news on that, from a
delegation. This is now a separate article, here.
of 1:36 p.m. --
Spokesman Martin Nesirky ran a noon briefing whose only topic was
Haiti. Top humanitarian John Holmes announced that a Chinese search
and rescue team had already arrived in Haiti. This timing seemed
extraordinary, so Inner City Press when called on near the end of the
briefing asked how the Chinese search and rescue team got there so
quickly, if they had perhaps been in the Caribbean when the
Beijing, Holmes answered, adding that their speed is in part
explained by Chinese interest in the "high level police
delegation" that he confirmed had been meeting with Mr. Annabi. But
China's Ambassador said they are only "on their way" -- through
Vancouver, Inner City Press is told. Inner City Press asked him to
confirm the Chinese delegation's meeting with Annabi and he did, but
said "I have no more information." Afterwards, one wag snarked, "Google
afternoon there is another press conference, by UN Peacekeeping, and a
stakeout by Ban Ki-moon. There is another, less publicized event that
Inner City Press is looking into. Watch this space.
Update of 2:33 p.m.,
North Lawn Conference Building entrance, fruitless Bill Clinton
stakeout -- Ban's schedule was amended, to include a photo op with Bill
Clinton at 2:45. But apparently the shots will be only by the UN's
inhouse media. Several independents mill about in the back entrance of
the UN's new building. "You can't put your laptop there," Inner City
Press is told.
Back in the
(old) Conference Building, Mulet and Dmitry Titov are briefing Troop
Contributing Countries. Ban will brief member states at 4, and do
another stakeout for the Press at 5. It's all Haiti, all the time. But
what is the UN accomplishing?
Update of 2:52 p.m.
-- twenty stray reporters, many with cameras, mill about on the raw
cement floor of the UN's new building. Not a wisp of Bill Clinton who,
it is assumed, will enter via the loading dock on 3B, elevator straight
up to the Ban cave on the third. Still it's not without interest,
seeing who comes in and out of the UN-KIA. One well placed source,
headed upstairs, gives Inner City Press a heads up for a high profile
attendee at the General Assembly's 4 p.m. meeting. More on this to
Update of 3:03 p.m.
-- as Haiti's Ambassador to the UN walks into UN-KIA with his Canadian
counterpart, Inner City Press and another journalist fall in behind
him. The journalist begins, "Mister Ambassador, condolences, can you
"I have no time," the Haitian Ambassador says. "I am going to a
City Press nods and followed, to (new) Conference Room 1. In the front,
the Haitian Ambassador stops to kiss Anne Veneman on both cheeks. It's
the UNICEF executive board meeting, not a meeting about Haiti. The work
of the UN goes on. Still, one wonders if this is the best use of
Haiti's top UN diplomat's time.
Update of 3:08 p.m.
-- "Thank you for being with us today, Mister Ambassador," Anne Veneman
says. She will talk about Haiti and what UNICEF is doing. She's checked
with the warehouse in Copenhagen. Water tanks are on the way, for
10,000 families. A DHL charter is being loaded in Panama, for 20,000
additional families. UNICEF will focus on children who have been
separated from their families. The Ambassador of Zimbabwe arrives
for the meeting.
Update of 3:14 p.m.
-- Haiti's Ambassador is now speaking, in French. In this new UN
conference room, the seats on the side for the media do not have
headphones to hear translation. Great planning.
Update of 3:23 p.m.
-- after Haiti's Ambassador, the floor is thrown open for any other
member state. And who takes the floor? Luxembourg. Then, the item
closed, UNICEF turns to resource generation.
Update of 3:50 p.m.
-- out in the hall of UN-KIA, Haiti's Ambassador greets Inner City
Press. He recalls questions asked about abuse by and repatriation of
Sri Lankan peacekeepers with MINUSTAH. Of Michele Montas, he didn't
know she was in Haiti but will check. And we believe him.
Update of 3:57 p.m.
-- and now the news, such as it is, that Inner City Press held back
upon request. Bill Clinton will speak to the General Assembly at 4 p.m.
in Conference Room 4. All staff members, as well as the press, are sent
up to the first floor gallery. In the hallway, DSG Migiro stops. Sad
day. Her chief of staff Parfait says the same. Still there are many
"Happy New Years" being exchanged in the hall. It's one last day, at
least, of the old UN. But where is Bill Clinton?
Update of 4:01 p.m.
-- Israel's Ambassador Shalev walks in. Inner City Press does not ask her about Dori Gold. (We
will have more on this.)
Update of 5:02 p.m.
-- Top peacekeepers Alain Le Roy and Susana Malcorra put confirmed
deaths -- of which families have been notified, they say -- at 14: 10
Brazilians (7 of them at Checkpoint 22, not in Hotel Christopher),
three Jordanians and one Haitian staff member.
Inner City Press asks a spokesperson how many national staff the UN has
in Haiti, there is no clear answer. On camera, Inner City Press repeats
its noon question still unanswered, whether Port au Prince was a
"family duty station."
Malcorra says, UN international staff were not supposed to bring their
families. But some did. (Inner City Press has reported on this
phenomenon before.) On whether the Christopher Hotel was MOSS
compliant, she says it's "a process," and aknowledges that improvement
were in the budget. We'll have more on this.
and Ban were scheduled to appear for a stakeout at 5 p.m.. But down in
Conference Room 1, the U.S. is speaking, through its Number Three
Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo.
Update of 5:23 p.m.
-- now Georgia's Ambassador is speaking, Ban on the podium looking
pained. And, minutes later, Russia is speaking.
Update of 5:44 p.m.
-- and now, back to back, Venezuela and Colombia.
Update of 5:55 p.m.
-- now in the gallery / cheap seats of Conference Room 1. Bill Clinton
nowhere in sight. On the podium: Mr. Ban, Ms. Migiro, Cameroon's
Ambassador, Alain Le Roy and USG Shaaban Shaaban. In the second row,
Kim Won-soo and Vijay Nambiar. That's the top UN officials, listening
to repetitive speeches. Does this show their commitment? Is this the
best way to be spending time?
Update of 5:58 p.m.
-- perhaps on this very topic, Mr. Ban whispers to Kim,Won-soo, who
descends from the podium to speak to Spokesman Nesirky. Are they
concerned about the ramifications -- in coverage -- of leaving the
press waiting for more than a hour for the second time this week? Why
continue to express surprise that things go slowly with the General
Assembly, when everyone can speechify at length?
Update of 6:02 p.m.
-- Ban is wrapping up, saying he is humbled. Sad update, he says:
FIFTEEN UN staff are now confirmed dead. Three Jordanians, 11
Brazilians, 1 Argentinian and 1 Chadian police officer. But that's
sixteen! And what about the Haitian national staff member mentioned by
Le Roy? And the other national staff members?
Update of 6:46 p.m.
-- Ban Ki-moon came upstairs and did a stakeout, sans Bill Clinton. Now he used the
number 16, but again did not mention the Haitian national staff member
listed as dead by Alain Le Roy and Ms. Malcorra. Afterwards, Inner City
Press waited to asked Spokesman Nesirky. Nesirky
read out loud portions of an email from Michele Montas, that 80% of the
city is destroyed. He said he assumes she would want this information
made public. About the Haitian national staff member dropped
between presentations by DPKO and Mr. Ban, he said he too had
noticed the discrepancy and would look into it. We'll see.