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As UN Talks Toilets, What of UN's Waste Causing Cholera in Haiti?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- It's World Toilet Day, and at the UN there is a lot of snickering and, at 10:30 am, there was a press conference. Inner City Press asked the four-woman panel about the UN Peacekeeping mission in Haiti MINUSTAH bringing cholera by lax sanitation practices. Persumably they had toilets - but the waste went into the river and now over 8,000 people are dead.

The panelist from Pakistan, Tanya Khan, agreed there is a need for "total sanitation" including where the waste goes.

Therese Dooley of UNICEF agreed, that if one family pays for a toilet and the neighbor doesn't, both might still get sick.

But still - what is the UN doing? They covered up their role in Haiti, still refusing to even apologize.

On November 14 and again November 18, Inner City Press asked if UN Peacekeeping, anywhere, has a Standing Claims Commission. On November 18, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's acting deputy spokesperson said he has asked UN Peacekeeping, but it is "not a yes or no question." Really? UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous is slated to speak, outside the UN, to a select(ed) crowd.

November 18, 2013 Video here. If the answer's yes, can't it be said in four days? And if no - what's the explanation? Or does the UN, and DPKO under Ladsous, think they can just not answer?

November 14, 2013:

  November 18, 2013:

Likewise, on November 14 Haq was asked for a comprehensive list of UN Under Secretaries Generals and Assistant Secretaries General. He said these are announced. But Inner City Press asked, what about long-standing, part-time officials? Where is the list?

  As a follow up, Inner City Press asked Haq for the UN Secretariat's response to criticism of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seeking to move his close associate Robert Orr from an ASG position funded by used portions of other empty budget lines to a new USG position, while seeking cuts elsewhere.

  Haq didn't provide a defense of this, other than saying that any new position is up to the General Assembly and if created would be recruited for in an open and transparent process. An example of why some doubt that is the refusal to answer simple questions like: does any DPKO Peacekeeping Mission have a Standing Claims Commission? That should be answered.

Footnotes: after Inner City Press asked about Haiti cholera on November 14, including Stephen Lewis' statement that the UN should admit responsibility and try to make victims whole, Pamela Falk the president of UNCA, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance, jumped onto the topic in essence to help the UN out.

  She said that Haq has been open, and raised a reason why the UN might still not be screening peacekeepers for cholera before deployment: the World Health Organization. What was the purpose of such a question? Especially after when the UN mis-answered Inner City Press' first question on this, saying that the UN does not screen, then admitted that it doesn't only when Inner City Press asked again. Open? Keep an eye out for that hard-hitting coverage -- not.

 And on November 19, before Inner City Press thanked the panelists on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, Falk for UNCA asked another softball question, working in Unilever which is trying to cleanse its reputation after the racism scandal in Thailand. This is one form of sanitation in which the UN is proficient.


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