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As WFP Hands Security to Official Linked to Iraq Bomb, No Answer But Pizza Hut Money

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22, updated Oct 24 -- Within the World Food Program, staff complain that WFP chief Josette Sheeran has put in charge of security the UN official in charge in Iraq at the time of the deadly Canal Hotel bombing, Ramiro Lopes da Silva.

  After being contacted with this and other complaints, Inner City Press five days ago posed questions to WFP's spokesperson and others, including Ms. Sheeran:

These are Press questions for WFP for a story today:

1st, please respond to criticism of having put Ramiro Lopes da Silva in charge of security for WFP, given his role in Iraq in connection with the Canal Hotel bombing.

Ban Ki-moon & Sheeran, answers on safety & finance not shown (c) UN Photo

2d, please provide a WFP comment on what staff call the cover up of abusive threats by "WFP poster boy Kevin"

3d, and going back some time, please provide an update on the seizing of WFP's Inspector General's computer

4th, please provide WFP income to date from the program of Pizza Hut and Zynga (creators of Farmville video game).

Please provide all that you can during business hours Eastern Standard Time, thanks.

Ms. Sheeran, her auto-responder said, was too busy to respond on these safety and financial transparency questions, either on October 17 when they were sent or in the five days since: "Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, may not be able to read and/or respond to your email immediately."

Spokesman Gregory Barrow was more specific: "I am away from the office until Monday 24 October. For any urgent inquiries while I am away, please contact Emilia Casella, Global Media Coordinator."

The question were immediately on October 17 resent to Ms. Casella, Global Media Coordinator, but were neither acknowledge nor answered.

So what are the answers? And given the importance of trying to feed the world's hungry, is this any way to run an international organization? Watch this site.

Update of October 24, 839 am -- A full week after the four questions were submitted to multiple spokespeople at WFP, and two days after the above was published, the following came in:

In response to your questions:

DED Ramiro Lopes da Silva is one of WFP's most experienced senior managers, and we have the utmost confidence in him.

The Pizza Hut / Zynga partnership has so far generated approximately US$20,000 for WFP.

I have no further comment.

Comment: the "we" having confidence if Mr. Da Silva, suspended by the UN after his role in the Canal Hotel bombing deaths in Iraq, may include the most senior, but significantly not the rest, of WFP staff. The Pizza Hut number seems low. The questions have been left entirely unaswered, after a full week. For an international organization which requests and receives billions of dollars in funds from the public, this is entirely unacceptable. To be continued.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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