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UN Promises Logistics in Myanmar, Key Failure at HQ, Some Press Excluded, FUNCA on the Case

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- The UN has many logistics roles, and makes claims to be efficient. For example on Tuesday, when Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky about Cyclone Mahasen bearing down on Myanmar, Nesirky emphasized the UN was pre-positioning supplies.

  Will it work? At a much smaller level, even the move-back of the press corps to the Secretariat building has run into snafus. The promised "EZTV" service has proved anything but easy: it won't be ready until the end of the week, if then.

  And still, at least for some, there are no keys. Nevertheless, the UN on Monday night urgently informed the Press that the office it would move from would be cleaned out on Tuesday night. As noted, at least some journalists cannot leave documents unlocked, due to their sources. But this is the UN.

  Some in the press corps, favored with already locked and disproportionately large offices like the UN Correspondents Association Executive Committee, with which the UN exclusively negotiated who got which space, see no need to advocate. Complaints, including from long time UNCA members not on the Executive Committee, are being heard. But is the UN in too deep?

  Tuesday from noon to 2, as noted, UNCA was trading 50 free lunches for a commitment not to ask any questions at a "Luncheon and Briefing" on wrestling, held in the UN because the sponsored paid the contractor Aramark.

  Meanwhile the previous day a female journalist was asked to leave an open session on human trafficking held in the Trusteeship Council chamber. The event was moderated by CNN's Jim Clancy and was listed in the UN's Media Alert (unlike the fly by night UNCA free lunch with wrestlers). But the journalist was asked to leave, she says, related to a previous complaint she made of sexual harassment. Human trafficking indeed.

  Whatever the provable back-story to the order to leave the event, the order was wrong.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access back on Sunday and early Monday raised the issue of "no keys" and other move-back snafus.

  From the top level of DPI, there was responsiveness. But where the rubber meets the road, or cylinder in this case -- the UN Locksmiths -- the responsiveness has stopped. If this is how the UN deals with the cyclone in Myanmar, watch out. And watch this site.

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