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UN Syria Report Says ISIS Has Chinese Fighters, Holds Migrants, Pre-Spun

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 24 -- The UN released its Syria aid access report in the same murky, pre-spun way (or worse) on July 24 as it did on April 23, then on May 22, and then on June 20 with no reforms instituted.

  The report says for example that "on June 29, the Islamic State issued a statement announcing that the Caliphate included people from the following nationalities: Caucasian [sic], Indian, Chinese, Shami (Levantine), Iraqi, Yemeni, Egyptian, North African, American, French, German, and Australians."

  As Inner City Press reported here, Australia along with Luxembourg and Jordan pushed a compromise new resolution on Syria aid access.

  The report recounts both barrel bombs and "hell cannons" (Paragraph 4); it says the Islamic State continues to hold "approximately 250 civilians," including migrant workers.

  Again, the UN report does not directly address calls in Washington to support the Free Syrian Army -- which is still listed by another part of the UN as recruiting and using child soldiers.

  This time, at 11:15 am US state media began tweeting about the report. Inner City Press went to the Spokesperson's Office and asked if it had been put out as described below. No, was the answer.

  But 15 minutes later, the Spokesperson's Office squawked that the report had been distributed to the Council, and there is then was in the "gray lady" -- the only UN report still distributed this way -- no reports on Africa are.

 Back on June 20, just before 6 pm, the UN Spokesperson's Office announced over its "squawk" system to correspondents still in the building that the report had been circulated. This meant it had been placed in piece of furniture in the Spokesperson's Office which has sat empty for many days now.

  Apparently only these Syria reports are now pre-released, pre-announced and pre-spun.

  In terms of the Spokesperson's duty to answer questions, there was by closure on June 20 no answer to Inner City Press' request to confirm or deny Ban Ki-moon was handed legal papers about the introduction of cholera into Haiti as he entered the Asia Society, Inner City Press coverage here.

  Back on May 22 the UN's go-to wire service, which has also tried to get other media thrown out, gushed that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's "toughly worded report... said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government bore the greater responsibility."

   This wire's report didn't mention the Free Syrian Army displacing people (in the report) or the FSA recruiting child soldiers (in another recent UN report, which Inner City Press noted here.)

  Nor did it mention, for example, "45,000 in areas besieged by opposition forces in Nubul and Zahra." The number remains the same in the June 20 report.

   As we diplomatically sketched on April 23 hoping for some reform, the UN Spokesperson's Office makes "advance copies" of reports available. That is fine - but there is no consistency in who they tell of the availability of reports or how they make the announcement.

  Showing bias, they only "squawk" over the internal intercom system some but not all reports.

  Now this inconsistency applies to pre-releasing some but not all reports. Who decides? How?

   Using the squawk system rather than e-mailing all resident correspondents favors media, like the UN friendly wire, which have a person sitting in their office -- for example a person who filed a "for the record" complaint against another media, than scammed Google into banning the leaked complaint from Search, misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, click here for that.

  Other international organizations handle this with less bias. The IMF gives accredited media like Inner City Press embargoed copies of documents, and hold embargoed briefings to which accredited journalists anywhere in the world can pose questions, then wait and report at the embargo time. The UN must improve: and the Free UN Coalition for Access is working on this.

  Other have complained about this murky UN practices; others still a month ago asked FUNCA to wait a week before proposing reforms, which it did. But where are any reforms? We will continue to Press.

   If the Gulf & Western insiders on the board of the UN Correspondents Association, which tried to get other media thrown out of the UN, have a problem with disclosure, they too should push the UN to reform. But they won't even reform themselves, and for example commit not to seek the expulsion of other media from the UN.

  The current spokesperson has taken sides on this and other things; it is time for reform. If Ban Ki-moon is so tough and principled, why was he praising the president of Sri Lanka just after a report showed him seeking to "go all the way" and kill all his opponents? This all circles back. We'll have more on this.


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