UN on Haiti, Ban Dodges on Immigration, Armenians Rebuffed, No Copter
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 19 -- As the UN
Security Council voted to authorize
3500 more peacekeepers for Haiti, including 1500 more police,
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on member states to step forward
with offers of troops.
Inner City Press asked about the Dominican
Republic's offer of a battalion, said to number 800, and whether Ban
and the UN think that countries should be less stringent with their
immigration restrictions after the Haitian earthquake.
Ban replied by
praising the Dominican Republic for its troop offer -- which some see
as simply blue helmeting a border guarding force -- and for its help
with the humanitarian effort. He is aware, he said, of the Dominican
Republic's attempt to accommodate Haitians within the Republic's
"rules and regulations."
asked Ban about reports that the UN had run out of fuel for its
trucks to deliver aid. Top humanitarian John Holmes passed a note to
Ban Ki-moon, who read out that last night 10,000 gallons of fuels had
took to the custom made podium brought out for Ban Ki-moon, Inner
City Press asked him about a reported complaint
by Armenia's Mission
to the UN, that they had offered a rescue team last Thursday but were
never told of any UN acceptance or decision.
replied that he
was unaware, but that there are always issues of matching needs with
offers. But from member states?
exclusively Monday evening about what UN sources said
was a helicopter crash in Haiti, asked chief Peacekeeper Alain
for an update. I've seen those reports, he said, but I have no new
information this morning. He said to ask Edmond Mulet, who will be
appearing later on Tuesday by video link from Haiti.
UN's Ban and former spokeswoman, answers on
immigration not shown
China Zhang Yesui, this month's
Security Council president, came out at announced
the Council's vote. While usually he leaves the stakeout without
taking any questions -- on Monday he walked away as Inner City Press
asked about the attacks in Afghanistan -- this time he called on
Xinhua, and offered a long answer on camera, in Chinese. It concerned
the UN's role in responding to Haiti.
would offer any more troops -- its 125 member contingent is, as Inner
City Press has reported, a "riot squad" that when rotated
has flown back to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region -- Zhang
Yesui said it
would be taken under advisement.
last speaker at
the stakeout was U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who came
prepared with an answer to Inner City Press' question
whether the $100 million of aid announced by President Barack Obama
would be part of the UN's flash appeal.
Ambassador Wolff said,
the $100 million is "bilateral." But he said that the US
will be contributing generously to the UN's flash appeal, in the
coming days. We'll see.
because the UN and even Security Council has become all Haiti, all
the time for now, Inner City Press asked the U.S.'s Alejandro Wolff
about reports of bombing in Darfur, requests to protect civilians,
and Chad's statement it does not want the mandate of the Darfur
related MINURCAT peacekeeping mission renewed. Wolff said the U.S.
is concerned and is seeking more information. Inner City Press has
asked the UN too, and hopes to be able to write more on this topic
the UN's January 19 transcript:
City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, the Dominican Republic has offered
a battalion – it has been said publicly – they’ve also said
that they are very concerned about immigration and people crossing
the border. Does the UN have anything to say whether countries
should loosen their immigration restrictions on Haitians, or
otherwise, after this crisis? And also, does the UN still have gas to
run its trucks? There was a report in USA Today that the UN was
running out of gas for its food distribution trucks.
Ki-moon: From the beginning of this crisis, the Dominican Republic
Government has been providing very generously and swiftly all
possible assistance to their neighbouring country, Haiti, and we are
very much grateful to them. I am also aware of the Dominican
Republic’s intention to dispatch troops there - that is also
welcome. For the immigration issues, I am also aware that the
Dominican Republic Government is trying to accommodate as many as
possible, those people within the existing rules and regulations of
their country, but they have been very generous. Of course, this
fuel is quite limited in Haiti. Ten thousand gallons of fuel, I
think, arrived last night from the Dominican Republic. That will
help more, as we continue our operations.
* * *
UN, It's "All Hail" to US in Haiti, While Elsewhere France
and Brazil Are Critical
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 18 -- As the UN
Security Council emptied out Monday
at noon, sources told Inner City Press that in closed
the U.S. said that to strengthen the mandate of the UN Mission in
Haiti, MINUSTAH, would "send the wrong message... that the
Haitian government is weak."
Alejandro Wolff, who represented the U.S. in the meeting and spoke
afterwards to the Press, said that the U.S. is supporting UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's request for a vote authorizing 2000
more troops and 1500 more police for MINUSTAH.
asked Ambassador Wolff if it is true that the U.S. thinking
strengthening the mandate would send some wrong message. Wolff
replied that the UN, including chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy, has not
identified any deficiency in the mandate.
Ambassador left the Council, Inner City Press asked her about public
quotes from Brazil that MINUSTAH's mandate should, in fact, be
bolstered. She, however, called the mandate "sufficient."
about any difficulties Brazilian NGOs have had getting
into Haiti through the airport, now run by the U.S., she said there
have been "no such problems."
Gerard Araud, too, was over the top in his praise of the U.S.,
telling the Press that "we are living in the US after all." Inner City
asked if, as reported, France supported Medecins Sans Frontieres
complaints about having planes blocked by the Americans
from the Port
au Prince airport.
French Ambassador Araud, ministers' critiques of
U.S. not shown
quickly answered (video here)
that the Americans are doing a good job, that the
airport is small by international standards, and that "we are living in
the US after all."
fact, French Cooperation
Joyandet made a complaint about the blocking of MSF's plane.
And Araud's boss Bernard Kouchner
has said the airport has become an "annex or Washington," according to
France's Ambassador to Haiti Didier Le Bret.
So what is France's position --
these two statements, or Araud's?
From the French Mission's
transcription, of question dubious, of
answer less so:
Inner City Press:
Médecins sans frontières
complained that its planes couldn’t get in to the airport and
blamed the Americans. Does France confirm that?
Amb. Araud: Of course, no.
I think we are
extremely grateful and personally I said it in the Council, extremely
grateful for what the US government is doing, and especially managing
the airport. You know, frustrations are understandable. You have a
small airport, in international terms, which was devastated by the
earthquake and you have hundred of planes which want to land. So it’s
totally normal that there are delays, but I think that the situation
has dramatically improved. Yesterday, you know, it was possible to
have sixty planes landing and today it will be one hundred planes
landing. But the most important will be to work on the port. We have
to rehabilitate the port where we can bring most of the aid.
Once again, we are living
in the US
after all, and we want to express our gratitude for the mobilization
of the US administration and the US people.
the US Mission's transcript:
City Press: Someone said on this idea of strengthening the mandate
that the U.S. had a concern that this would send a message somehow
that the Government of Haiti was too weak. I just want to know
whether you think there is a danger in that type of message being
sent. And also whether the U.S. will be participating in the UN's
Flash Appeal that was announced on Friday, whether the $100 million
announced by President Obama in any way is related to that or should
be counted towards that.
Ambassador Wolff: I'll get back to
you on the later question, I want to make sure I have the right
information for you, exactly how that $100 million fits into that,
into the Flash Appeal. As to the mandate issue, there is no
indication, indeed neither the Secretary-General nor
Undersecretary-General Le Roy mentioned any deficiency in the current
mandate. And so, if the UN is satisfied and the troop contributors
are satisfied and the force commander is satisfied then we should
focus on what we need to do under the current mandate. Of course, as
you indicate, we will need to look and evaluate over the longer term,
as we assess the long term impact of this tragedy on the country and
on the UN's ability to function, and whether the requirements for the
UN have to be adapted in any way. That is something that we do
with any mandate and we will obviously do it with particular
attention in this case.
Watch this site.
Footnote: Since the Security Council has other
matters on its agenda, Inner City Press tried to ask this month's
Council president, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, if and when he
expects the Council to address Afghanistan. But having been asked if
the Chinese search and rescue team stopped after finding the Chinese
delegation who'd met with Hedi Annabi, Zhang Yesui just
walked away. Who will replace him as China's Ambassador is not yet