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UN Says Philippines Should Decide on Relocation, Cites Areas UNreachable by Media

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 22, updated -- The UN has resisted criticizing the Philippines government in responding to typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda. John Ging of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Inner City Press that OCHA's relationship with the Philippines is as good as any it has.

  The most recent OCHA Situation Report as of November 21 lists as a "gap or constraint" that "no legislative decision has yet been made on alternative re-settlement or re-location arrangements, or on response to movements of people."

  Inner City Press on Friday asked OCHA chief Valerie Amos to explain this and one other gap or constraint, regarding media coverage.

  Amos explained that as people fled Tacloban and four other islands, some went as far as Manila and do not want to return. It is important to know as soon as possible, she said, what the policy and the returns will be, to know where to invest resources.

  The other gap Inner City Press asked about was that "most of the affected areas in Leyte and Samar provinces remain unreachable by media." After thanking Amos on behalf of the new media Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked if there are no local media, and what OCHA meant by this.

  Amos replied that media -- size and nationality not specified -- focused on Tacloban but these other areas need coverage as well. She described other places where the downtown looks OK, but the coastal road is destroyed.

  Both moderator Farhan Haq and Amos herself said the briefing was "Philippines only," and so it was.

  One correspondent wanted to ask about Syria but was rejected. While for example Amos has been much more detailed about visa denial and delay by Syria than by Sudan, still some are propagating a story of Amos covering up for Assad, and bringing in the UN's actual whitewash in Sri Lanka.

  This is a crowd-pleasing line in some quarters, and made Amos' "Philippines-only" stance all the more noteworthy. But what about Southern Kordofan? Watch this site.

Update: Friday evening at the UN, Valerie Amos walked the "red carpet" with DJ David Guetta, see Inner City Press tweeted photo here. Still: what about Southern Kordofan? Or Haiti cholera?


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