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UNESCO Covered Up COVID 19 Staff Say While Guterres Refuses All Press Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UN GATE, March 17 –  For three weeks, the UNESCO chief administrator Audrey Azoulay was playing with words in order to avoid any decision regarding the effective protection of staff at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. In this she followed and follows the example of the head of the UN system Antonio Guterres, who refuses all questions about Coronovirus from the Press he bans.

  Preferring to ignore the early warnings of her chief of the medical service Dr Cordier, Azoulay adopted the ostrich position instead of demonstrating vision and leadership. No measures at all were followed by half-measures. Information was denied to staff until the cases of infection had been exposed by Inner City Press.

During the last meeting of her Senior management team, she decided not to invite Dr Cordier to the meeting in order to prevent him from revealing the actual alarming situation and consequently upsetting the team.

“How the hell can a UN 'intellectual' institution demonstrate such blatant and stupid indifference towards its staff”, asks one of the senior managers of the organization who contacted Inner City Press appalled in a very French way by the "incredible insouciance" of DG Azoulay while facing the most serious crisis of her term in office.

The French director general Azoulay preferred to address the staff for the first time since her 2017 election in order to warn them no to believe in “rumors”.

But what rumors, Madam Azoulay? Those concerning the progressive sinking of the corrupted UNESCO for the last two years under your mandate or those related to the inability of your administration to deal with basic issues related to the safety of staff?  In the absence of any pressure from the staff associations, Madam DG Azoulay sit back and wait strategy clearly exposed staff to unnecessary risks.

Even today, after announcing early this morning the closing down of the UNESCO House, there is no single indication of the exact number of infected UNESCO staff. No transparency at all.

Concealing the veracity of facts is not a democratic practice. While another staff member from a Nordic country was tested contaminated last week, the sources tell Inner City Press, DG Azoulay is still not saying a word about it to his colleagues and partners. Guterres' spokesmen have refused each and every Coronavirus question from Inner City Press.

  UNESCO stinks because of the chronic inaction of DG Azoulay and of her compulsive policy to comply with French politics as if UNESCO were not a UN Agency but a mere French department ruled by the French Government.  But even the French Government came under huge fire today after the interview of the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn, in the newspaper Le Monde.

 She thus created a paramount political controversy by claiming to have warned several times the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and President Emmanuel Macron of the impossible holding of the municipal because of the epidemic of Coronavirus. A senior UNESCO staff formulated a devastating critique of the Azoulay’s administration handling of the Coronavirus crisis, saying it was too little, too late, lacked transparency and failed to inform and mobilize the staff in due course.

“In that serious situation what characterizes the most DG Audrey Azoulay is her lack of care for staff and the attitude of follower to President Macron instead of leading independently the UN cultural agency.  The UNESCO staff sources tell Inner City Press that obviously, the administration of DG Azoulay should have been encouraging staff members to stay at home earlier and not to wait for President Macron to so decide yesterday.

The administration of DG Azoulay should have been much clearer about its coordinated plans to effectively protect staff and their families, to ensure the functioning of UNESCO and guarantee its core activities. It hasn’t done any of that. And still, member states remain silent. We will have more on that.


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