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As Climate Refugees Flee Carteret Islands, No UN Help Nor Somalia Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 10 -- The UN made much of World Oceans Day, even as three shades of sea were projected on the Empire State Building in New York. But what is the UN doing for people fleeing rising water in the Carteret Islands? Nothing, or nothing yet, Inner City Press was told Monday at the UN.

  There was a press conference including the UN's Senior Legal Adviser on the Law of the Sea Annebeth Rosenboom and an anthropologist, Dr Jenny Newell. Inner City Press asked each of them a question; Newell responded briefing on Nauru but then mentioned the Carteret Islands, people leaving without government support on supply ships.

  Australia does not accept them, does not accept climate change refugees. So Inner City Press asked what the UN is going to help, since it talks so much about these issues, climate change and refugees. The answer was a conference in Samoa -- next year. How many desperate supply ships from now is that?

  On the Somali government's statement last week "calling 'null and void' the Memorandum of Understanding between the TFG Minister of International Cooperation and Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs signed in Nairobi on April 7, 2009," the UN's Senior Legal Adviser on the Law of the Sea Annebeth Rosenboom would say only that every "note verbale" is put on the UN's website.

  Inner City Press has closely covered the issue, including a previous statement by the UN -- after being involved in the MOU - that is was "not actionable." Inner City Press asked if last week's Somali government statement is deemed as note verbale. No, is the answer. We hope to have more on this.

Footnote: this was the first briefing in the UN's new Press Briefing Room. Despite questions that have arisen about the propriety of the UN automatically giving the first question to members of the UN Correspondents Association who pay money for the privilege, UNCA's 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS took the first question, "on behalf of UNCA."

  So Inner City Press thanked the panelists on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, and tried to push Ms Rosenboom to offer some answer on her and the UN's role on the Law of the Sea, with respect to the deal with Kenya about Somalia the UN brokered.

  To say that a background briefing last week was the place to ask this question -- background meaning not quoting anyone by name -- is not sufficient. FUNCA will be pushing on this.

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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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