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Sahel Plan of Prodi Delayed, UN's Piper Pitches Country by Country, Nepal Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 11 -- The UN's Robert Piper, who only recently was tapped to coordinate humanitarian issues on the Sahel, told Inner City Press on Tuesday he has gotten involved in the long delayed Sahel strategy report that Romano Prodi was put in charge of back in October.

  He said while there is a humanitarian component, Prodi is focused on big picture infrastructure projects. Would that be solar? Uranium like in Niger? Whatever it is, has taken taken too long. And meanwhile Prodi has charged the UN $1,200 to travel between Bologna and Rome.

  Despite this waste, Piper's pitch on Tuesday was to raise funds. Inner City Press asked him, if Cameroon is at 130% of the amount requested for food security, and Niger at only 12%, couldn't the UN shift the month? Video here, from Minute 20:33.

No, was the answer, the appeals are country specific. Piper said that "the money comes in earmarked for particular appeals in almost 100% of the cases... We naturally try to influence the donors to countries falling off the map, and sectors being neglected. But the money comes with a country's name attached and even a sector."

  One might wonder: why? If Piper is the humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, why don't they do an appeal for the region, and not country by country? Could that be part of Prodi's long delayed strategy?

  On that, Piper said it's "coming to a close," to be "discussed soon in the Security Council." He said, "I have been part of the process in coming into this job."

  Piper, it seems, lost his appeal in or for Nepal: he left amid calls that he be persona non grata-ed.

  That's not necessarily a bad thing; time did not permit the question, and at the noon briefing that followed, Nesirky did not call on Inner City Press to ask any question. It was abbreviated for the presentation of ICTR prosecutor Jallow. Inner City Press ran out to try to ask a question of UK ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who did not take it, video here at Minute 5:29, but arrived back in the Press Briefing Room while another was being allowed a second question. But Piper's in the job. Watch this site.

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