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UN Covers Up Coronavirus Including On UN Correspondent No Answer From UN Spokesman

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, March 19 – The United Nations, which bills itself the "world body," should answer questions from the press and public. But since Secretary General Antonio Guterres came in, the UN has become more and more opaque. And he has many enablers, for example the state media and retirees dominating the UN Correspondents Association a/k/a UN Censorship Alliance.

  On March 19 Guterres held what he called a press conference but took only four questions, all from the UN Censorship Alliance. He began by equating this UNCA with all journalists and noting that one of their members got COVID19.

  That was attributed to the head of UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit Tal Mekel, a previously civil official who was reduced to throwing Inner City Press' boxes out of the UN and denying its re-entry requests without explanation. He said that the UNCA member with COVID-19 attended the UN noon briefing of March 12.

  A review of the video of that pathetic briefing shows only a handful of people: France 24's Ali Barada, Voice of America's Margaret Besheer, AFP's Philip Rater, Al Jazeera and a few others. Video on UN website here. Inner City Press asked the UN, in writing, what it has done. No answer. Nor on why it laid off all Delegate Dining Room workers without any mitigation. Guterres is a corrupt censor. Watch this site.

  On March 16, Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a nearly empty Press Briefing Room said that from now on he and his Deputy Farhan Haq will answer questions by text message or WhatsApp.  

  But apparently he tried to limit this offer only to the correspondents whom Guterres, he and Melissa Fleming give office space too, which does not include critical Inner City Press but does involve three huge offices for China's state media Xinhua, for example.  

  Now on March 18, forwarded to Inner City Press, this: "UNCA member tested positive for COVID-19. Their test results were revealed on Tuesday, March 17... The UNCA member was last at UN Headquarters on Thursday, March 12th, attended the spokesperson's noon briefing and spent time at the Delegates Lounge and in the press area on the third floor. Our colleague started feeling the symptoms on Friday morning, took the test on Saturday and immediately quarantined at home... We continue to keep in constant contact with the Spokesperson's Office and MALU for minute-to-minute updates" - but no answers to any other journalists who cover the UN.

 Several disgusted members of the UN Correspondents Association forwarded to Inner City Press an e-mail they received and suggested it submit its questions, about Guterres' and Fleming's lack of financial disclosure, cover up of UN rapes and complicity in Cameroon, through the ways they were invited to. Here's from the e-mail:

"Dear colleagues,  The spokesperson's office has provided us with both Stephane and Farhan's cell number so that correspondents can send a question via WhatsApp or text before noon.  Stephane Dujarric: +1 917 622 7652 

Farhan Haq: +1 917 592 4591  In addition, we are passing on an update from MALU that there will be NO signing in of guests at UNHQ and the accreditation office will not be issuing any temporary passes until further notice. Valeria Robecco President, United Nations Correspondents Association."

  So on March 17 well before noon, by both WhatsApp and text message as well as e-mail, Inner City Press submitted to both spokesmen its substantive questions, ranging from state violence in Cameroon to censorship in Iran to reported cases of UN sexual abuse and Guterres' and Fleming's lack of disclosure. It asked that receipt be confirmed and the questions answered before or at noon.  

When the UN's March 17 noon briefing occurred, there were only two in-person questioners, one of whom is retired. She used the briefing to advertise, as did Spokesman Farhan Haq.

But there were no answers, despite following the procedures detailed above. Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, will have more on this. 


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