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On Haiti, Ban Says All Through UN, Through U.S. Not, Watchdog Possible, Staff Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 15 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in his third day in a room of addressing the Press about Haiti, declined to Friday to provide casualty figures, leaving that for his spokesman Martin Nesirky. Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban, in light of his call that all aid be "coordinated" through the UN, whether the $100 million announced by U.S. President Barack Obama will be part of the UN's $550 million flash appeal.

Mr. Ban answered that giving money NOT through the UN is a decision that any sovereign government can make. Only yesterday, he said that increased U.S. military presence in Haiti would be coordinated with the UN, or as some reporters heard it, under UN control.

Already, there is a call for an independent aid monitor. Inner City Press asked Ban about the idea. Ban said yes, there is a need for transparency, the idea will be studied. Notably, after Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, the UN allowed millions of dollars in aid to be taken by the Than Shwe government, as exposed by Inner City Press. The UN at first denied it, then admitted it, then later downplayed it.

Nesirky came back after Ban and took very few questions. The paper of record asked about visits to national staff members homes, which the Deputy SRSG described in response to Inner City Press' question on January 15, but only as to UNDP. Nesirky said the visits are continuing.

But are the peacekeeping mission's national Haitian staff all being visited?

Bill Clinton taps UN's Ban, coordination and watchdog not yet shown

  In terms of now 38 deaths among the "UN presence in Haiti," on January 14 the briefers from Haiti said that deaths are only listed once families are informed, which is coordinated through UN headquarters in New York.

But is that the process for national Haitian staff? Nesirky took no more questions. So here's another: what about contractors who worked for the UN? At UN headquarters in New York, the cooking and cleaning and even UN TV is done by contractors, many of whom have worked in and for the UN for more than a decade. But such contractors would not show up or be counted, as the UN is doing it. Watch this site.

In Haiti, National UN Staff in Limbo, Despite Some Good News in Ruins

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- At the UN on July 14 it became even less clear what the UN Mission in Haiti is doing for it national staff, including how it is counting them. In the casualty figures released by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the morning, no national Haitian staff were included.

At the UN's noon briefing by video link from near the Port au Prince airport, figures were provided for injured national staff, but not deceased or missing. Inner City Press, which first raised the question on July 13, asked why. Because they went to their homes, was the answer. Because they are focused on survival.

  Inner City Press is informed that a MINUSTAH staffer, close with Hedy Annabi, has been found alive. A reliable source told Inner City Press that "Patrick Hein, working closely with Annabi was rescued... brought up from the mess of concrete. According to his dad Philippe Hein ( who has visited him at one point in Haiti and used to work at WTO ) his office is next to Annabi. Father was a bit piss off at Kouchner for saying that everyone has perished."

  If true, this is good news. But what about national Haitian UN staff? When Pressed, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, the tri-lingual Kim Bolduk, said that UNDP had sent out three missions to check on its national staff in their homes.

  When Inner City Press tried to follow up this answer to MINUSTAH's director of communications, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky cut in to disallow this follow up.

Hotel Christopher, rented by UN for $94,000 a month, in ruins - MOSS compliant?

  He proceeded to allow some others two and three follow ups, whenever they wanted. The UN is full of open double standards. We will continue. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Doesn't Count Haitian Staff - But Treats Them Equally, Ban Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED 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 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dropped all reference to nationalities in his count of the dead.

Inner City Press 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.

While Ban insisted 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.

  In 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 staff.

  After 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.

  Now, 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.

Footnote: 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:

Inner 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 faring?

SG 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 distinction.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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

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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