G-8 Spouses, WFP Flies in Ghanaian Children for "Simulated
Feeding," $500,000 Cost and Ms. Sheeran Disputed, re N. Korea
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, July 7 -- During the upcoming G-8 meeting in Italy, the UN
World Food Program is flying school children from Ghana to Rome for a
"simulated food distribution" display for the spouses of
G-8 representatives. WFP has ordered staff not involved in the
display to not come to work that day. They will, however, received
"special leave with full pay."
City Press wrote about
this last week, quoting an internal WFP e-mail. On July
7, Inner City Press called in to what was described as a WFP press
briefing about the G-8 and asked for response to criticism of the
event as insensitive to beneficiaries of UN aid and for the cost, as
well as about limitations WFP accepts from the government of North
on the conference call -- who will remain unnamed at their request --
at first did not answer the question, and then stated that the event
would cost only a fraction of the figure Inner City Press used its its July 2
Press asked to be given on the
record WFP's figure, including staff time, accommodation and air fare
-- and carbon offsetting of the jet travel, if any. Four hours later,
after close of business in Rome, a WFP spokesman said that an answer
might be forthcoming. In the interim, WFP had scrubbed up and
approved a quote from the "background" briefing for a less
critical wire service piece.
so, beyond the
WFP e-mail below describing the event, here is the basis for Inner
City Press' estimate of cost:
to the WFP website, 'WFP employed 10,200 people in 2008 (91 percent
of staff serve in the field.)' That means about 1000 work at WFP
Headquarters in Rome. Even accounting for a satellite building that
will stay in operation -- though who knows how many staff will show
up or be able to get near it -- we estimate that 800 staff go home
and that the average grade is the mid range of a P4 (grades are
higher at WFP headquarters than in the field). The direct cost for
such a post is about $100,000 but one must add to that pension, staff
assessment and a large "post adjustment" because the dollar
is weak against the Euro. Therefore a more realistic annual cost for
a mid range P4 is perhaps $150,000-160,000.
The work year has 260
days, so a single day of labor lost costs the organization $576.
Multiplied by 800, one gets about $467,000 -- plus related security
costs, the cost of flying in the Ghanaian children to eat corn-soy
blend in view of the G-8 spouses, the construction of a fake
schoolhouse by WFP's pool, etc. In addition there is the Italian
government paying rent on a building that is not being used to manage
food aid but as a set for this theater. The last public figure on
the website for the building costs was about $45 million per annum
with a daily cost of roughly $123,000. So $467,000 plus $123,000
yields about $590,000.
a senior WFP official on Tuesday's conference call said that costs
were only "a fraction" of $500,000, Inner City Press
formally asked for WFP's estimate of costs, and for confirmation that
a WFP staffer was expelled from North Korea.
UN's Ban and WFP's Sheeran, luncheon
June 2, 2009, 'simulated feeding' not shown
At deadline nine hours
later, the following arrived:
the question regarding the planned event at WFP headquarters on
Friday 10 July, I refer you to the response given during the
teleconference earlier today. On the question of DPRK, I have the
senior WFP official said one WFP staff member in DPRK has had to
leave the country because his visa was not renewed by the
authorities. A number of other WFP staff members have been
reassigned, or rotated to new duty stations because WFP's operations
have contracted and the number of people required to support WFP's
activities have gone down.
WFP continues to operate under the new conditions imposed by the DPRK
authorities, it has not formally accepted them, and WFP is continuing
to push for a return to the original terms of agreement negotiated
with the government at the launch of the current emergency
operation," the official added.
We continue to
wait for WFP's cost estimate. Inner City Press immediately followed
up on the above, asking for the costs, if the WFP staff member who
had to leave DPRK was from South Korea, and another question.
questions were sent to WFP chief Josette Sheeran's e-mail address.
Ms. Sheeran, on whom Inner City Press has previously reported,
including where possible praising her work, has taken to hiring yet
more former colleagues from the Washington Times, most recently
Elizabeth "Lisa" Bryant.
the UN system community in
Rome, many believe that Ms. Sheeran engaged in a quid pro quo with
FAO chief Jacques Diouf, hiring a relative of his for an information
technology post in exchange for FAO hiring the husband of her
personal assistant, Tanujah Rastogi. They snark that since Ms.
Sheeran Shiner bragged that while editing the Washington Times she
ran story after story about the Clintons and Whitewater, the Obama
Administration with Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State might want
to see a change at the top of WFP. Through in the snafu of the
$500,000 simulated feeding program and.... well, watch this site.
you know, Italy will be hosting the G8 Summit next
week and leaders from more than two dozen countries will be in
L’Aquila. We are honored that the Italian government has asked WFP
to host an official program at our headquarters on Friday, 10 July,
as part of the spouse program.
This visit is a profound testament
to the increasing visibility of WFP's work -- and an opportunity to
help the world better understand the important work we do. On our
premises, we are arranging a simulated food distribution and a
symbolic African schoolhouse, where a small group of Ghanaian
schoolchildren will help celebrate our work. (You may have noticed
the large exhibit being erected this morning behind the pool.)
to the security precautions mandated by the Italian government
and the visiting delegations, only those employees involved in the
event or deemed necessary for critical operations by their managers
will be permitted on the main building premises during the morning of
July 10. Among other things, parking will be severely limited at our
main building and automobile access limited in Parco de Medici in
But we encourage you to take advantage of this special
exhibit and bring your families, including your children, on the
afternoon of 10 July – anytime after 2:00 – so they can get a
taste of our field work and meet the schoolchildren. If you cannot
bring your family on 10 July, note that the tent and displays will
remain up on Monday, 13 July, so we invite you to bring family
members to see the display then.
this is a special event,
we realize it might cause some inconvenience. We hope you can
appreciate what an historic opportunity this is for some of the
world’s most influential people to understand what we do and to see
the impact of their donations.
are some guidelines for the
day: If you work in the main building, please do not come to the
office Friday morning, 10 July. The St. Martin’s building will
remain open. As much as possible, please work from home... We expect
the main building to re-open for business as usual at 2:00, so if
it's feasible for you to return, please do so. If returning to the
office in the afternoon is not feasible for you -- we recognize that
some of the Parco de Medici transit options do not run in the
afternoon, for instance – you are authorized special leave with
full pay. Thank you,
Chief of Internal
Communications, World Food Programme
Via C.G. Viola 68,Rome, Italy
one WFP staffer, anonymous from fear of retaliation, asked if Josette
Sheeran would similarly "parade around Food Stamp recipient in
the United States," and went on to suggest that if the G-8
spouses wanted to see "needy Africans" while in Italy, they
could check out the camps on Lampedusa...
In Pyongyang Has Korean Speakers Expelled, Flies African Children to
Eat for G-8
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive
NATIONS, July 2 -- While the UN in New York announced that its World
Food Program will shrink what remains of its program in North Korea,
in the midst of declining donor confidence and missile tests by
Pyongyang, the UN was more quiet about the restrictions it had been
under and is accepting in the country. WFP in a memorandum from
Beijing notes that the Kim Jong Il government now requires that none
of WFP's remaining international staff should be able to speak
is told that WFP - Pyongyang's main Korea speaker was expelled from
the country as persona non grata on June 20 and that this bodes badly
for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon naming a new UN envoy to North
Korea. Reportedly, Ban had focused on a South Korean envoy, with an
eye toward running the candidate by members at the upcoming G-8
meeting. But if Kim Jong Il is expelling from the country what few UN
system Korean speakers remained, such an envoy seems even less
of WFP and
the G-8, for the upcoming meeting WFP is flying in children from
Ghana to eat as a part of an "exhibit" for the spouses of
G-8 leaders on July 10. The internal WFP email is below. Several WFP
sources expressed disgust to Inner City Press at the event, which
they ascribe to WFP head Josette Sheeran. One asked, "Would she
parade around Food Stamp recipient in the United States?" They
put the expenses of the event, including the substantial closure of
the WFP headquarters on July 10, at $500,000.
WFP's Sheeran gives award to UN's Ban,
PNG and Eat for G-8 not shown
UN, N. Korea Test Reaction Veiled in Secrecy, P-5 Search for Leak
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 10, updated June 11
-- Seventeen days after North Korea conducted at
least its second underground nuclear test, the UN Security
Council is scheduled this morning to circulate a previously-leaked
draft sanctions resolution. A belated reaction with belated demands for
secrecy, it will finally be made public on a volutary basis. For that
reason and those below, for now there was no need to have it published
here until circulated - now here it it.
North Korea has already denounced it, and
it is unclear who, if anyone would actually search North Korea ships.
Perhaps the U.S. will seize more of Kim Jong-Il's money, as it did in
Banco Delta Asia. But it could have done that without action by the
in the process, Inner City Press got and published a
draft of the resolution, minus
substantive operative paragraph eight. Credit was given; there
was little push-back.
June 5 Inner City Press obtained the
near-final draft, which had been circulated to the capitals of the
Permanent Five member plus Japan and South Korea. Inner
put it online that Friday at noon, it went with credit to Japan,
of London and Washington
Post. The feedback, however, was
not all positive.
Ambassadors approached Inner City Press to complain. You have made
things more difficult, they said in different ways. One, Rosemary
DiCarlo of the U.S., was to her credit willing to explain why.
Countries find it hard to back away from positions in a draft that
goes online, she said. Another had said, just summarize it, don't put
the text online. Ambassador DiCarlo said that it's easier to
away from a summary.
Permanent Representative Jean-Maurice Ripert had an extraordinary
reaction. He summoned "the French press," how ever defined,
and insisted to them that the draft Inner City Press had put online had
not, in fact, been circulated. This had been contradicted by
others in the French mission, and by other diplomats. Still Ripert
insisted it was true, according to multiple sources in attendance at
Ripert held yet another news event for only portions of the press corps
on the eve of the North Korea meeting, this time about peacekeeping. He
focused on the Congo, yet the topic of the UN Mission there, known by
its French acronym MONUC,
constructively working with indicted war criminal Jean-Bosco Ntaganda
somehow did not come up. We'll have more on this.
U.S. mission took a different approach, grilling other Council
members and even Secretariat staff trying to determine the source of
the leak. To some, the approach seemed inconsistent with what Barack
Obama has said, about transparency and openness to the press. Several
journalists detailed to the UN during these past two weeks have
expressed surprise at the press relations of the current U.S.
mission. Perhaps a work in progress.
Secrecy at the stakeout, hunt for leak and
promises of transparency not shown
at six o'clock, the Russian mission emailed out comments of
Ambassador Churkin, that consensus is emerging. Then at nine a.m.
Wednesday, a meeting was scheduled for two hours later. It will be
live blogged here. Watch this space.
of 11:08 a.m. -- one by one, or rather each with separate entourage,
they have entered. Susan Rice with security and spokesman; Vitaly
Churkin, like China's Deputy Liu, with a jaunty step. China's Permanent
Representative with a single political advisor and a smile.
France's Ripert, who reported told some journalists to only expect a
vote on Friday, stopped and said in French, hopefully "demain"
of 1:20 p.m. -- the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon, true to form, held its noon briefing in direct conflict
with the Ambassadors who spoke at the stakeout. Perhaps so that even
fewer reporters would attend and ask questions at the Secretariat's
briefing. There were only three, and none of the questions were
answered. Afterwards, Russia's Vitaly Churkin was speaking at the
stakeout. He was asked why the draft has not yet been "put into blue."
Ripert, it was said, repeated his prediction of adoption tomorrow or
Friday. Several Japanese reporters expressed relief, that their two
week vigil of watching nothing happen appears finally at an end.
of 7:53 p.m. -- a vote on Thursday is said to be unlikely, by a
non-permanent Security Council member, some of whom pushed back
against not having been included in the process of the P-5 plus Two.
As Swiss Ambassador Peter Maurer told the Press on Wednesday
afternoon, on the record, why do countries work for four years to get a
seat on the
Council only to sit back and wait to be given the menu by the P-5?
of June 11, 11:19 a.m. -- A Russian diplomat tells the Press that there
have been a number of amendments proposed, presumably by non P-5
members, and "they must be considered." Asked if a vote Friday is
possible, he said, "I do not know... I have to ask my expert."
of 11: 26 a.m. - Japan's Ambassador Takasu, more upbeat, said in
Japanese to the press from that country (which in turn offered this
translation to Inner City Press) that he is not aware of any
opposition, but that he will of course listen to any opinion. Asked if
there will be a vote Friday, he said he does not like to make
of 11 p.m. -- it has "gone blue," and a meeting scheduled for June 12
at 11 a.m., presumably to vote: watch this site.
UN, Near Final Draft on North Korea Leaked to Inner City
Press, Arms Export Ban and Cargo Inspection Added
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: Exclusive-Must Credit
NATIONS, June 5 -- Thirteen days after North Korea conducted an
underground nuclear test, a near-final
draft resolution emerged
behind closed doors at the UN Security Council.
draft, a copy of which Inner City Press obtained and puts
online here as a must-credit exclusive, has more than thirty
operative paragraphs, compared to the mere 14 paragraphs of the three-page
draft Inner City Press similarly obtained and published on
May 28. (AP, Japanese and other media appropriately credited Inner
This time, Inner City Press is
told by its sources that the draft was circulated to the capitals of
the Permanent Five Plus Two -- these last are Japan and South Korea
-- with the deadline for comments on June 5 at 10 a.m. New York
The provision allowing North Korea to import light weapons, in
Paragraph 10, is attributable to Russia, according to a well placed
Inner City Press source who calls it the Kalishnikof or AK-47 clause.
Beyond the cargo ban, other provisions are weaker than
the proponents wanted. Paragraph
19, for example, merely calls
on "member states and international
financial and credit institutions not to enter into new
commitments... except for humanitarian and developmental purposes."
Paragraph 17 prohibits "bunkering services, such as provision of
fuel or supplies" to vessels. Paragraph 22 calls for reports
within 45 days.
At UN, media chases news of draft now published by Inner City Press
the draft resolution seems unlikely to change North Korea's course,
it has been the subject of intense journalistic interest for nearly
two weeks now at the UN in New York, particularly by Japanese media,
who have remained camped out in front of the Security Council during
meetings on Somalia, Bosnia and Tribunals and on June 5, Sudan and
Non-permanent members of the Security Council complained to the Press
that they were kept in the dark throughout the days of negotiation.
the morning of June 5, Inner City Press obtained the draft
that, as a must-credit exclusive, it puts online here. Watch this
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
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News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
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