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In UN, Bed Bugs Scoop Confirmed, UN Tried to Cover Up, Staff Complain to ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 -- The UN has in the past had bed bugs in office space it has rented west of First Avenue, as Inner City Press exclusively reported on October 25, 2010 as to the rented Albano Building on 46th Street.
  But now Inner City Press has been exclusively informed that a high floor of the UN's own building, the 34th, has been evacuated due to a finding of bed bugs there. Inner City Press published the story on the morning of June 23 and asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it at the day's noon briefing.

  Dujarric said he was unaware. But Inner City Press not only obtained a copy of the UN's email on the subject - which Dujarric's office also provided mid-afternoon --  but was contacted by staff angry that the UN tried to cover up the bed bugs. "They were working on it over the weekend but didn't want to tell anyone," was one complaint, "like a [much] smaller version of their cover up of the sexual abuse of children in Central Africa." Or, Inner City Press might add, a smaller version of cholera in Haiti. What is wrong with today's UN?

 Here is the UN's own email, exclusively obtained and published by Inner City Press:

"The Department of Management wishes to inform staff that bedbugs have been detected in an isolated area (two cubicles on the northern end of the 34th floor) of the Secretariat building. The Office of Central Support Services responded promptly, and the area is being treated by professional exterminators. In order to ensure that the infestation has been contained completely, a further canine inspection will be carried out tonight, including on surrounding floors. Affected staff will be briefed in an information session with the exterminator.

"We have every reason to believe that the problem has been contained, but will remain vigilant. As per normal protocol following the advice of the pest control expert, reinspection with be conducted by the exterminator in 2 weeks. Staff wishing to educate themselves further will find useful information at the following link:"

Back on October 27, 2010, with bed bugs having been found and then confirmed in the UN's Capital Master Plan office in its headquarters building on 42nd Street, as first reported by Inner City Press on October 25, two days later the UN issued a statement trying to minimize the problem.

  Spin, it seems, takes precedence at the UN over solutions.

After Inner City Press' exclusive October 25 report, at the October 26 UN noon briefing it asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky what the UN was doing. Later that afternoon Nesirky's office read a short statement over the UN's “squawk box” system.

  Inner City Press request to be e-mailed a copy of Nesirky's responses to its questions itself went unresponded to.

On October 27, Inner City Press asked Nesirky what had happened after the UN found bed bugs in its 46th Street Albano Building in September 2009, another outbreak exclusively reported by Inner City Press.

  Nesirky first said that had been “clover mites,” then acknowledged that characterization applied to a test done in May 2010, not the September 2009 incident Inner City Press was asking about. See list of previous Inner City Press articles, below.

UN's Ban, Adlerstein, Kane in North Lawn: bugs' next stop?

After the October 27 noon briefing, the UN issued the following written statement:

In September 2009, a bed bug sniffing dog confirmed infestation on most floors of the Albano building. The whole building was fumigated on 19 September 2009 and repeated 2 weeks later. As is standard practice, 6 months later on 6 May 2010 the dog returned and indicated the presence of bed bugs. However, the dog is not able to distinguish between alive and dead bed bugs. As a precautionary measure the whole building was fumigated the weekend of 8, 9 May 2010. On 10 May 2010 a staff member reported the presence of a bed bug in the office. The contractor examined the bug and identified it to be a “clover mite”, which is not harmful to building, furniture, or humans. Since the fumigation in September and October last year, one staff member advised of a suspected bed bug bite, but the expert advised this was from some other insect. In conclusion there has been no confirmed bed bug activity in the Albano building since the fumigations last year.

Since that time, as reported recently in the media, bed bug infestations have been found in many public and commercial buildings throughout New York City indicating a worsening problem. On 15 October 2010, bed bugs have also been found in furniture which came from the 19th and 20th floors of the Secretariat Building and on 22 October 2010 in furniture in the 1B area of the Library Building. This furniture has been moved to a part of the building not occupied by staff to facilitate fumigation. Two important factors are noted, firstly that the dogs are not able to distinguish between bed bugs that are alive and active or dead and secondly that no staff or building occupants have reported being bitten. We continue to follow the expert advice of our exterminator specialist making further tests with the bed bug sniffing dog to more fully assess and manage the problem.

New York, 27 Oct. 10

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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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