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With Ban in Ebola Zone, Qs of Transparency and Freedoms, UNanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conducts a belated whirlwind tour through Ebola impacted countries and then the headquarters of the UN Ebola response mission UNMEER in Ghana, questions have arisen about Ban's moves on the leadership and future of UNMEER, and transparency more generally.

  Among responses to Ebola have been the arrest of journalists and now house to house searches. But Ban did not mention these. Nor has the UN's policies for medical evacuation rights for its national staff members been disclosed, despite numerous requests by Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  Ban has said he intends to end UNMEER in September 2015. So why, some ask, did he his month replace Anthony Banbury as its chief, with only nine months remaining in the mission? And why did he replace him with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania, about whose service in Syria, Yemen and Libya many doubts exist?

  Sources in Yemen say Ould Cheikh Ahmed was the UN's “designated security official” when a UNICEF staffer was taken hostage while traveling to the Sana'a airport without the required (and needed) security detail. Some say Ould Cheikh Ahmed was distracted, in Yemen and later in Libya, by side business interests.

  But a check of Ban Ki-moon's Public Disclosure website, where his officials are supposed to make rudimentary disclosure of the finances and outside business interests, does not even list Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (while numerous other Deputy SRSGs are listed). His is not in the most recent database, for 2013 - and may escape any disclosure by become an Under Secretary General with a mere nine month stint at UNMEER. Then what? We'll say on this.

  Then again, the disclosure page for Ban's head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous does not even work, yielding this: “The requested URL /sg/ethicalstandards/2013/HervĂ© Ladsous.pdf was not found on this server.” Some transparency.

Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions, on cover up of rapes in the DR Congo and now Darfur, and his peacekeepers shooting at democracy demonstrators in Haiti.

Ban Ki-moon held a press conference in New York on December 17 but no questions were allowed on any of these topics. In fact, it seemed clear that Ban had demanded and gotten questions in advance, to know how to answer. But his spokesman would not confirm or deny this, only saying it is his job to have Ban “prepared” for his press conference. We'll have more on this.


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