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On Aid Day, UN Pitches Barclays, Cut Off Somalia, Ignores Haiti Cholera

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- Why does the UN use "corporate partners" for its Humanitarian Day and how does it choose them? How are they reviewed?

  It's reported that Barclays is a sponsor, for example. But Barclays is cutting off remittances to Somalia -- this, neither UK Baroness Valerie Amos, UN humanitarian chief, or UK Reuters that she pitches to, mention.

  Amos cited Haiti, which certainly needs and deserves more support, particularly after the UN brought cholera there, killing 8,000 people and still causing havoc. But Reuters and Amos don't mention this side of the UN's work in Haiti.

  The UN's Humanitarian Day is tied to the attack on the UN Compound in Baghdad ten years ago in 2003. Even UN officials have said there are lessons to be learned about the UN being perceived as taking sides.

  But the lessons have not been learned. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as simply one example, the UN is on the verge of launching operations to "neutralize" rebels groups the government in Kinshasa doesn't like. And click here for an example of the UN in Somalia outed for its role in sharing information with the US FBI.

These issues should be addressed. But while UN Humanitarian Day is pitched as showing "social" media, most UN twitter accounts don't respond to simple questions, and UN two-way partner Reuters is involved in anonymous social media trolling against critical Press reporting on the UN. Call it UNsocial media.

The UN, until not long ago, had a strand that stood up for humanitarian independence. But when this was raised more recently, for example by MSF in the Eastern Congo, the UN ignored it, then claimed that the UN's "intervention brigade," controlled by a French official Herve Ladsous who argued for the escape of genocidaires during the Rwanda genocide, won't impact independence.

  How not? We and the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, will continue to ask (here is UN's response) -- including through (UN)social media. Watch this site.


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