UN, More Troops for Haiti Debated, U.S. Off Table, 6 Hour Visit
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 18 -- Into the UN Security Council Monday morning,
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his top advisers filed grim faced
in. UN Peacekeeping will be asking for authorization of 800 more
soldiers and 450 more police, a Western Council member's spokesperson
asked, Will the resolution address the increased U.S. military
presence? No, the spokesperson said. It is only about MINUTAH,"
the UN Mission there. That the Dominican Republic offered a
battalion was discussed. The question was, only to police the border?
accompany Ban to Haiti on Sunday recounted he was on the ground for
barely six hours. He was not present at the Christopher Hotel when
the Danish UN staffer was miraculously dug out.
spokesperson and that of UN Peacekeeping had run back, while
reporters dutifully remained on the UN's bus. The UN documented its
own victory over the darkness, by Flip video.
most senior advisors, several chosen correspondents noticed a dandy-ish
fur collar and wondered where PETA, the People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals, might be. These same visually oriented
correspondents noted at the stakeout Monday morning the bright red tan
of a Latin member's spokesman. Inner City Press asked, Haiti? Somewhere
nearby, the genial red faced one replied.
reporter for a salmon colored
daily, who signed up for the trip on January 13 but was told "no luck"
on January 17, ended up relying on the UN's own news service for his
critique for American management of the airport. Some wondered whether
his realistic assessments of Team Ban had left him off the trip while
South Korean media was chosen to go.
other of a still-missing UN staff member complained that no one was
or is looking for her, where she was during the quake. Even with the
UN dramatically focused on Haiti, these voices seem to get lost.
administration is all hands on deck about Haiti, its seeming
inability to deal with more than one issue at once is ill-serving it.
On Friday Inner City Press began asking Ban's spokesman about attacks
in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Today I'm sticking
to Haiti, the spokesman
UN's Ban in Port au Prince on Jan. 17, many things
While later he related and took the question, three
days later there has been no answer.
Council meeting, more attacks had taken place in the heart of Kabul.
Still no word from the UN. Nor about moves to further muscle the UN
out of the climate change negotiation process.
consultations began, with Ban slated to appear before the press at
10:40 or 10:50 a.m.. Watch this space.
of 11:19 a.m. -- When Ban Ki-moon came to the stakeout, he said he
would take two questions. The first selected question was what he
most moved him personally. The second concerned coordination with the
U.S., to which Inner City Press followed out: What about the Doctors
Without Borders plane turned back? Ban replied that his envoy Edmond
Mulet is working with the Americans. Video here.
Behind Ban, top humanitarian
John Holmes whispered to the spokesman. While Ban left for his
previously scheduled meeting with UN staff, Holmes stayed to take
more questions, including from Inner City Press on mercenaries, Jacmel,
fuel and national staff, answers to which are reported on this site, here.
the UN's transcript:
City Press: Doctors Without Borders was building over the weekend an
inflatible hospital. What steps is the UN going to take to make sure,
at least at the airport, that these type of needed facilities can get
There is an overwhelming situation – bottlenecks – in airport
facilities and road conditions and delivering food aid. The US
Government has been assisting the Haitian Government with control
tower equipment. As you know the control tower has been damaged
while the runway was okay. Therefore the United Nations is very
closely coordinating with the US authorities to have a smooth
operation, and I am grateful that the United States Government has
been swiftly and effectively dealing with this, in close coordination
with the Unied Nations. Mr. Edmond Mulet has been very closely
coordinating with the US ambassador and other key donors at the
* * *
Ban-tourage to Haiti Grows After Protest, of Turf Wars,
Hillary and Planes
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 16 -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an
entourage prepare to leave the UN in New York at 6 a.m. on Sunday
morning, for Newark International Airport and, reportedly, a U.S.
provided plane to Port au Prince, the turf war to coordinate aid to
Haiti has just begun.
to be at the center, at least in this country where it had 7000
peacekeepers, 490 international and 1200 Haitian staff, the U.S. has
taken control of the airport. With Ban slated to go to Haiti on
Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared Saturday.
asked Ban Ki-moon if he thought the $100 million in aid pledged by
U.S. President Barack Obama would channeled through the UN's $560
million flash appeal. Ban said that whether or not to work through
the UN is the decision of each sovereign government. Well, the Obama
Administration's $100 million is not going through the UN.
sources tell Inner City Press that went Ban asked Bill Clinton how to
fly to Haiti, the response was to "ask Hillary, she'll probably
give you a better plane than she'd give me."
Ban Ki-moon see in all this an attempt to re-brand Mister Ban.
by new spokesman Martin Nesirky, Ban has appeared each day at the
Security Council stakeout, providing television sound byte and avoid
questions such as the safety compliance of the UN headquarters
building which collapses, and his not counting national Haiti staff
in the casualty figures he provided.
City Press published
a detailed report on how Ban and Nesirky chose
to accompany Ban to Haiti a TV reporter from Ban's native South
Korea, while excluding major wire services.
and after subsequent protest by spurned wires, an angry
Nesirky reversed course and included first two more wires, including
the one he used to work for, then also the Voice of America and CNN's
long time Diplomatic License correspondent. Another media was belatedly
asked if it wanted a seat on the plane but declined, just as the
South Korean Yonhap declined Ban's invitation to document his trip to
UN's Ban and copter- Myanmar 2009, Haiti 2010 not yet shown
emerged that the UN initially reached out and hand selected which
journalists it wanted to accompany Ban. Inner City Press covered
self-selection of coverage in connection with Ban's controversial
trip to Myanmar, where by most accounts he was used and abused by
dictator Than Shwe.
tragedy like Haiti should not present such dangers to Team Ban. Some
see in the inclusion from the beginning of Korean television an
attempt to use the tragedy for promotion in the homeland, and wonder
if that means Ban wants to return there. But that's another story.
For the immediate future, along with other UN matters Ban and Nesirky
have tried to sideline, we will be reporting on Haiti, in as much
detail as allowed or possible. Watch this site.
* * *
Ban Plans Sunday Haiti Trip, Picks South Korean and UN Media, Spurned
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 15, updated Jan 16 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
will fly to Haiti
for a one-day trip on Sunday. To publicize his trip, Ban will be
by journalists from France's wire service and television station, and
in a surprise to some, South Korean media.
journalists who had put their names on the list to go demanded to
know why they were not included, while not only South Korea media but
also the UN's own in house self documentarians were selected.
representing a major South Florida daily, says he was told by Ban's
spokesman Martin Nesirky, this is not like selecting a soccer team, I
don't have to say how I made choices, remember, I'm not new at this
job, I was with Reuters for years.
Nesirky told the reporter the criteria included multi-media
platforms, "coverage of the UN," circulation, history of covering the
region and inclusion
in the directory of the UN Correspondents' Association. At least one
of the invitees does not comply with this last criterion. And it is
unclear, at least to some, if by "coverage of the UN" positive or
negative coverage is meant.
of South Korean media seems designed, several correspondents told
Inner City Press, to feed Ban Ki-moon's image in his native country,
they also saw a wider communications strategy at work.
was and is a disaster, they were quick to acknowledge. (We agree.) But
for both Ban and his spokesman to resist for days now answering
questions on any topic but Haiti represented, to them, a drive to
remain "on message" as a politician would.
the January 15
noon briefing, Nesirky told Inner City Press that "I'm sticking with
Haiti today," when a question about a rocket attack near
the UN in Kabul was being raised. Video here,
from Minute 43:05; the exchange was omitted from the UN's
Nesirky later relented and
allowed this and a question about the UN in Somalia to be asked, ten
hours later neither question had been answered. Even Nepal, on the
Security Council's agenda with the UNMIN Mission, got no UN
headquarters support from the UN on Friday, click here for
Inner City Press story today
on this and impunity.
UN's Ban and his spokesman on Jan. 14,
only Haiti questions, even those (on Haitian staff) not answered
expose of corruption in Ban's UN that moved on American newswires on
Tuesday was never asked about or responded to, lost in the UN's wall
to wall statements on Haiti.
matters, controversies were identified, outsourced and marginalized.
When questions arose about Ban not counting casualties above the UN's
national Haitian staff in the nation-specific presentations he made,
to member states and to the press, Ban next said he would not report
by nation, only Nesirky would.
in turn tried to explain the
UN's reporting focus on international staff, and then to argue that
while processed differently, reports of the deaths of national
Haitian staff were treated equally.
several waves of negative coverage in 2009, on topics ranging from
seeming weak with strongmen in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. (Inner City
Press went on Ban's May 2009 Sri Lanka trip, remaining on the issue
since and, in full disclosure, applying to cover Ban Haiti trip.)
recently, Ban has been accused by French President Nicolas
Sarkozy of saying and accomplishing too little before, at and after
the Copenhagen climate change talks.
natural disasters are the UN's finest (media) hour, these long time
correspondents said, pointing to the post-tsunami omnipresence of
Kofi Annan's humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland.
In this case,
himself needs better coverage -- the correspondents tied it to Ban's
drive to get a second five year term as Secretary General, since more
than three years of his first term have expired -- and so he, rather
than Egeland's successor John Holmes, is presented day after day at
the stakeout camera.
And now on a
flash tour of Haiti, documented by
the UN itself and South Korean media. Mr. Ban has scheduled a meeting
with UN staff in New York for Monday at 11 a.m.. Watch this site.
when Nesirky was selected, and Inner City Press asked if the fact
that he speaks Korean and has family and professional tied to Korea,
having covered Seoul for Reuters, were part of the reason why, the
question was not answered. Then Nesirky came to a briefing and, while
taking no questions, pointed out that he speaks German as well, but
France is understood to have insisted that UN lead
spokespeople speak French, the UN's other working language. Now
French print, TV and wire are all included on the Haiti trip, along
with South Korean media. Whether all this assists in the drive to
assert the UN's centrality in coordinating aid and action in Haiti
remains to be seen.
of Saturday, Jan 16, 1:30 p.m. -- Fifteen hours after the
of the article above, the UN's Ban and Nesirky reversed course and
moved to include two more wire services on Ban's trip, increasing the
size of the Ban-tourage. Their initial exclusion, and the inclusion
of South Korean media (and UN in house documentarians as media)
remains unexplained. Watch this site, and see this morning's Inner City
Press story on U.S. description, with little UN in it, of aid work in