Appeals for Iraq, Explains Mozambique, Snoop Dogg at Arms-Length
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May
23 -- In Iraq, only 30% of children now go to school on a regular basis, down
from 75% two years ago, according to the UN Children's Fund. UNICEF on Wednesday
announced an appeal for
$42 million for Iraqi youth in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.
the launch was shifted at the last minute from New York to Amman, Jordan, with
the involvement of Queen Rania. UNICEF's briefer in New York, Daniel Toole,
said that now Syria and Jordan recognize their need for international resources
to deal with the spill-over from Iraq, and that the involvement of Jordan's
Royal Family is particularly important.
City Press asked about report that Jordan is making it increasingly difficult
for those seeking to flee Iraq to cross over in to Jordan. Mr. Toole said he
didn't spend time on the border, but flew in, but that UNICEF is aware of
difficulties both leaving and entering Iraq.
[On May 21, Syria's
Permanent Representative to the UN Bashara Ja'afari told Inner City Press that
the UN's refugee agency, while helpful, has not been able to provide anywhere
need the funded needed to serve those who've fled Iraq for Syria, click
to view the Q&A.]
of the appeal for $42 million, Inner City Press asked if UNICEF is speaking with
particular governments, and if the public can contribute. Mr. Toole mentioned
speaking with the U.S. about the educational needs of Iraqi children now in
Jordan, but emphasized that nothing has yet been committed. He said that the
public can and should contribute, through one of UNICEF's 37 country committees.
Toole mentioned by name the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, which had "blog"-announced his
appearance. [In the U.S., one can call 800-4UNICEF; elsewhere, visit UNICEF.org].
He said that people are aware of UNICEF, including through stickers placed on
aid the agency gives, and that this is important since 30% of UNICEF's funds
come from the general public (this hit 66% in the case of the tsunami).
UNICEF has a higher profile than other UN agencies like the UN Development
Program raises questions about the proposed "One-UN" system-wide coherence plan,
under which UNDP would be deemed the focal point. Mr. Toole said that while
there is a UN Country Team in Iraq, their strategic plan is not yet ready, and
so UNICEF went forward with its appeal.
delivers water in Iraq, Snoop Dogg not shown (see below)
Mozambique, Snoop Dog and UN agency round-up: Realistically, it is hard
to imagine UNICEF or the World Food Program taking a back seat to UNDP, in
fundraising or anything else. Even in terms of providing information to
journalists, UNDP lags behind. On May 22 at a press conference on the same
rostrum from which Mr. Toole spoke on May 23, UNDP committed to provide
information about its claimed biodiversity programs in North Korea. More than 24
hours later, neither than or other related questions posed by email -- some
several weeks old -- have been answered. [Past deadline, 30 hours after the
request, responses on
Nepal were received, a welcome and hopefully not one-time-only change, but
still nothing on Georgia or Timor L'Este or on briefings by Messrs. Dervis or
on the other hand, while still asking for time on a question from earlier in the
week, has provided data on
child soldiers in the Congo
(which we will report elsewhere), and a description of its programs in
Mozambique. For comparison's sake, UNICEF's country representative in
Mozambique, Leila Pakkala, is married to UNDP's (non) resident representative to
North Korea, Timo
Pakkala. Questions to and about Mr. Pakkala have not been responded to,
despite or because of his involvement in the financing that is now subject to a
90-day urgent audit Ban Ki-moon called for 124 days ago. While UNICEF, on alert
to the Timo connection, limited its responses to written summaries of certain
Mozambican issues, at least UNICEF responded. Inner City Press asked:
Pakkala, the interview request is made, certainly without disregard for UNICEF's
work in Mozambique, but also [hopefully] in preparation of a piece about this
fascinating United Nations (system) couple, Timo until recently in North Korea,
Leila in Mozambique, how they met (in Iran), religious elements, etc.. We
understand that Timo is now in Palma de Mayorca; whether the suspension of
UNDP's programs in North Korea might, on the human level, create more time
together for the Pakkalas is the type of quirky mini-portrait which Inner City
Press at times likes to do.
Mozambique-specific issues, we'd for example like to ask about the arms depot
explosion in Maputo in late March, and Ms. Pakkala's comments about unexploded
munitions -- are there still unexploded munitions about? How did UNICEF's public
education campaign work? Likewise, we'd ask for updates on the floods and their
impacts on children, and on a problem she discussed in 2005, of parents
resisting registering their children.
ignoring or implicitly declining the interview request, UNICEF responded:
please see below information on your questions sent by our Mozambique office.
depot explosion in Maputo:
Official sources report that unexploded ordnances (UXO) have been removed from
areas affected by the Paiol explosion. Authorities continue to respond to
specific reports of possible small UXOs. Mine risk education activities were
carried out by local organizations and Protection Cluster partners, including
Handicap International, Rede Came, Reencontro, IND, Save the Children and
UNICEF. Interventions focused on tracing, registering and reintegrating
separated children, social mobilization and Mine Risk Education (MRE) through
the development of leaflets with basic messages for distribution in communities
and school based sensitization activities and psychosocial support for families
and affected populations in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. No
post-explosion UXO injuries or deaths have been reported to date.
All children separated from their families as a result of the Paiol explosion
have been reunited with caregivers through the Ministry of Women and Social
Welfare with the support of UNICEF and other Protection Cluster partners.
A two page briefing note was developed by Education Cluster partners, the
Ministries of Education, Health and Women and Social Action for distribution to
teachers and Ministry of Education staff to provide basic guidance on how to
address psychosocial concerns of children in the classroom, with additional
information on where to go for additional support. Support by teachers was
immediately set in place as part of the local school curricula.
2. Floods situation... information
on the humanitarian response to the floods and the cyclone is available on our
web site at
Data collected by the Government of Mozambique in 2003 revealed that 94 per cent
of children under five were not registered. In addition, 80 per cent of orphaned
and vulnerable children did not have birth registration according to a study
conducted by the Ministry for Women and Social Action in 2004 in the five
central provinces most affected by HIV AIDS.
Over the last several years, the Government has made a concerted effort to
increase access to birth registration with support from UNICEF. In 2004, a
National Plan of Action on Birth Registration was developed with the aim of
decentralizing birth registration services and raising public awareness of the
importance of birth registration with a specific focus on orphaned and
The Implementation of the Plan of Action on Birth Registration by the Ministry
of Justice is expected to result in the registration of 3 million children under
the age of 18, using both mobile brigades and fixed registration agents by 2008.
The Plan aims to clear the backlog of unregistered births and test effective
mechanisms for the routine registration of children closer to communities. The
Ministry of Justice has begun increasing the range of registration agents and
training on registration procedures has been provided to teachers, health
workers and particularly to members of communities and local administration,
with the involvement of Provincial and District governments.
In 2006, more than 1 million children were registered, which represents
approximately 10% of children nationwide. This includes 90,309 orphaned
Districts covered in 2006 are:
Muecate (45,314) e Moma (154,237),
Manica: Gondola (65,000) e Bárue (58,000),
Cabo Delgado: Chiúre (83,000) e Montepuez (40,039)
Zambézia: Milange (175,083) e Maganja da Costa (126,876)
Niassa: Nipepe (12,846) e Mecula (9,447),
Tete: Moatize (25,000) e Cabora Bassa (23,886)
Gaza: Chicualacuala (12,500) e Xai-Xai (62,062)
Inhambane: Homoíne (31,793) e Inharrime (22,710)
Sofala: Gorongosa (23,000) e Nhamatanda (38,000);
Provincia de Maputo: Matutuine (2,322) e Manhiça (1,200).
to UNDP: other than the ignoring / declining of the interview request, that
is how a question can and should be answered by a UN agency. And if there is
less transparency at UNDP, it is entirely appropriate that UNICEF and others
make their own appeals for emergency funds.
brings us to the last point in this round-up. On May 21, Inner City Press asked
UNICEF for "information about who paid and how the
reported $150,000 performance fee [for Snoop Doggy Dog] for benefit for UNICEF
on April 17, 2007, at Cipriani Wall Street (see NY Post of April 19, 2007)."
UNICEF replied that "this was not a
UNICEF run event. Cipriani organizes a concert series each year and this year,
the US Fund for UNICEF was the beneficiary. We didn't incur any costs."
But if UNICEF is directing
prospective individual donors to the US Fund for UNICEF, it might have been
important in the short term to respond to the New York Post so that readers were
aware that the incident described, in which the toasted rapper Snoop Dogf
refused to perform despite the $150,000 fee, was not directly attributable to
UNICEF. The NY Post item ended up being re-reported in England, Houston and even
Korea, as well as
Fox, which reported that
that 10 members of his personal posse be flown over first-class, and at the last
minute almost didn't attend the concert, as his dressing room wasn’t decked out
with an Xbox for playing video games. 'We finally found someone who lent us
their kids' Xbox,' an insider told Page Six. According to the paper, Snoop and
his sidekicks were an hour late making it to the stage, which meant that the
Pussycat Dolls (who were paid $300,000 to perform) were forced to speak, and
consequently thanked "Unicel" instead of UNICEF. 'The idea that organizations
pay and pamper these already rich people is disgraceful,' said Mia Logan, a New
York mother whose 3-year-old daughter is suffering from a severe heart
condition. 'If stars need to benefit financially, then it's obvious they have no
interest in the cause. Just think how many lives could be saved with that money
In the longer term, if at stated at
Wednesday's press conference with regarding to putting UNICEF stickers on aid,
UNICEF is focused on its brand, not all benefits... provide a benefit. The same
NY Post, on February 6, 2007, quoted
spokeswoman Lisa Szarkowski [that] celebrities are often a vital, invaluable
part of raising public awareness. And she concedes that the hierarchy of
humanitarianism can be just as ruthless as that of any casting director or
nightclub doorman. For years, she has been trying to book longtime
activist/UNICEF ambassador Mia Farrow on various talk shows to discuss Darfur -
but no one wanted to book her, because she lacks pop cultural currency."
Farrow, Queen Rania or Snoop Dogg? Whatever gets the job done. But keep doing
Again, because a number of Inner
City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the
poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to
conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated
goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and
emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please
continue trying, and keep the information flowing.
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