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After Sandy, Diplomats Work from UN Not Dark Missions, Chinese Generator, Windex in 3B

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- Hurricane Sandy's impact on the UN, downplayed in a "rosy" November 1 press conference by UN officials, was not limited to the UN Secretariat's downed e-mail and website and corridors in its "3B" third sub basement "like the movie Titanic" -- countries' missions were also impacted.

  Among the Permanent Five members of the Security Council, only China had its Mission's power cut off. It is located on 35th Street, four blocks into the blackout zone.

  Inner City Press has been told that a generator turned on and stayed on, unlike at nearly NYU and Bellevue Hospitals. But with Con Ed still off, some UN thinkers are looking at the Host Country Agreement.

  Despite lack of electricity and even running water in Chinatown where he lives, a worker at the Vienna Cafe has remained upbeat, even as the volume of coffee cups and left over sushi and pastries as risen with increased use of the Cafe.

   Another sample Security Council member, South Africa, still has the power in its 38th Street Mission off. Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu and his political coordinator took off Thursday evening leading a Council mini trip to Timor Leste.

  But its other diplomats remained working in New York, visible in the UN's Vienna Cafe, having a wide range of meetings. The same could be said of Indonesia, with its building on the same 38th Street block as South Africa's mission.

  Just as neither rain nor snow nor "gloom of night" were said to stop deliverers of mail, countries' diplomacy continues, even when the UN Secretariat leaves its web site down for days.

  Another country's Permanent Representative told how his wife took visitors to Union Square and found "food being handed out, no power... like a war zone."

   Diplomats in and beyond the Security Council complained to Inner City Press on Friday about the UN's response to Hurricane Sandy, and about public statements since that some call "misleading."

  For its part, despite a statement November 1 at 2 pm that the Un's website would be "back up" that day, Inner City Press noted this was not the case at 5 pm that day, see Twitter photo here. At 5 pm on November 2, the UN website was still "unavailable... undergoing urgent maintenance."

   A long-time Permanent Representative told Inner City Press the UN Secretariat "asked for money to be Number One in preparedness and business continuity, but look at this -- email down, member states weren't kept informed." We will have more on this on Monday, if not before.

   Staff members complained to Inner City Press they are being "forced" back to work in the nether regions of the UN, given "only Windex and a dust mask." One asked, "Will they even have an OSHA certified inspection? Is it safe?"

    Inner City Press at Friday's noon briefing, the first in a week, asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey about the inspection, and safety. He said he would look into any inspection. We'll see. Watch this site.

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