Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Doesn't Count Haitian Staff - But Treats Them Equally, Ban Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- A day after the UN's death count of its personnel in Port au Prince at first included a single Haitian staff member, and then dropped the reference, on Thursday morning Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dropped all reference to nationalities in his count of the dead.

Inner City Press asked if the UN's national Haitian staff have been included in the figures the UN has been giving out, not only of casualties but even of how many people work for the UN.

While Ban insisted that national staff are treated "equally," the figure thrown around - that 11,000 people work for the UN's MINUSTAH mission -- does not include the UN's national staff.

  In response to the question, Ban referred to notes and said that the UN has 1200 national staff in Haiti. This compares to 490 international civilian staff.

  After Ban left the stakeout, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain the UN's reporting of casualties. Nesirky said that the focus has been on reporting to those with international interest.

UN's Ban at stakeout, national Haitian staff not in figures

  He also said that national staff who worked in the UN headquarters in Port of Prince were somehow more likely to have already have left the building for the day when the earthquake struck. Video here.

  Now, he said, the UN is going out to the listed home addresses of its national staff to check on them. But will they now begin reporting the Haitians, equally, in their public statements? Watch this site.

Footnote: after Ban and his spokesman left the stakeout, another journalist -- not this one -- marveled that the UN would focus on internationals and not Haitians, who are the people most impacted, and of most interest to her as a journalist.

  From the UN's January 14 transcript:

Inner City Press: I understand that now you are saying that the nationality of those killed will be given by the Spokesman. Yesterday it was mentioned that a Haitian national was among those who were deceased, and then in what you said yesterday evening, it wasn’t mentioned. Some questions have arisen whether the numbers the UN is given actually include the Haitians that are hired, the national staff. What is the figure, or what are the procedures for checking how the actual Haitian nationals employed in various functions for the UN are faring?

SG Ban Ki-moon: In saving lives, there is no difference, no distinction between international and national staff. We have 1,200 national staff employed by the United Nations [in Haiti]. There seems to be very much a difficulty in communicating with all the national staff. Some of their houses have been affected. It is very difficult to account for all the national staff. We are doing, on the same principal: that we will try to save all the lives, without any distinction.

* * *

At UN after Haiti Quake, Delivering Death News, Delayed Dispatch of Deputy, Live Blogging UN Responses

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 13, updates below -- As news as UN casualties from Haiti trickles out -- four Brazilian, eight Chinese and three Jordanian peacekeepers killed, head of mission Hedi Annabi missing -- at UN Headquarters Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his chiefs of Peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs prepared to speak to the Press.

In the lobby of the nearly empty UN building, lights and microphones were set up. Journalists milled around, asking for the dates of U.S. invasions of Haiti. Mr. Ban had trailed not only U.S. President Barack Obama, but even Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, in responding to the earthquake Tuesday night. But now the UN was springing into action.

Questions remain unanswered about whether the UN's headquarters in Haiti, for which it has paid $94,000 a month, was MOSS (Minimum Operational Safety Standard) compliant. Updates below

UN in Haiti, earthquake and safeguards not shown

Update of 8:49 a.m. -- after Mr. Ban spoke, saying among other things he will send Peacekeeping Deputy Edmond Mulet to Haiti "as early as Friday," a half dozen of his top officials took to the microphone. One, however, stood off to the side: Under Secretary General for Safety and Security Gregory Starr, in charge of inspecting UN facilities for safety.
   Inner City Press asked the group if the Hotel Christopher was MOSS compliant, the way the UN assesses buildings' safety. The question was never answered. Rather, Mr. Mulet said that other buildings also collapsed, as if that meant that the question of UN self-inspection, highlighted at least since the bombing and partial collapse of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, didn't have to be answered.

Update of 9:10 a.m. -- While UNDP says that 38 staff, both national and international, are so far unaccounted for, no numbers were given for UNICEF or the World Food Program. Inner City Press asked humanitarian chief John Holmes about these two agencies. He said the staff were all fine, or mostly all fine. Later, off camera, Edmond Mulet told Inner City Press that WFP has a warehouse, which did not collapse, and is now secured by UN Peacekeepers, presumably to prevent looting.

  Inner City Press asked DPKO Alain Le Roy what role the UN Peacekeepers will play in keeping public order. Le Roy referred to first helping at Hotel Christopher, then securing other UN buildings, then patrolling the streets.

  In late 2009, UN Peacekeepers fired live ammunition when they thought a crowd was approaching a downed UN helicopter. It was explained to Inner City Press that UN Police use rubber bullets, while the Peacekeepers use live rounds. Le Roy said the UN has 3000 "Peacekeepers" on Port au Prince.

  Before Mulet left the UN lobby, Inner City Press asked him directly what the terms of engagement would be for UN Peacekeepers, referencing rubber bullets or live ammo. We haven't discussed that, Mulet said. And then he was gone.

  By the UN's schedule, there is a "debate" -- in reality, a series of speeches -- in the Security Council starting at 9:30 about "regional organizations." Click here for Inner City Press' story yesterday about the EU's power play. It is anticipated that the Council's stakeout microphone will be a venue for Haiti quake statements if not news Watch this space.

Update of 9:32 a.m. -- in front of the Security Council, a Chinese diplomat is asked about reports on state media that eight Chinese peacekeepers have been killed in Haiti. The diplomat doesn't appear to know, saying first that they are okay, then that China has only a "small delegation" in Haiti. One reporter groans.

Alain Le Roy, on his way in, declined to confirm the figure of eight Chinese dead, but says that Peacekeeper deaths may be around twenty. In the UN headquarters in Hotel Christopher, he says, were some 100 people. Still no work from Mr. Annabi or his deputy.

Update of 10:26 a.m. -- on a Doctors Without Borders / MSF press conference call, Inner City Press asks for any information about the UN headquarters in the Christopher Hotel. MSF says the UN has been badly damaged, MSF does not expect much help from the UN as they will have to face their internal challenges. MSF says, unprompted, that it cannot confirm how the top leadership of the UN in Haiti has been impacted. But Inner City Press may have news on that, from a delegation.  This is now a separate article, here.

Update of 1:36 p.m. -- UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky ran a noon briefing whose only topic was Haiti. Top humanitarian John Holmes announced that a Chinese search and rescue team had already arrived in Haiti. This timing seemed extraordinary, so Inner City Press when called on near the end of the briefing asked how the Chinese search and rescue team got there so quickly, if they had perhaps been in the Caribbean when the earthquake happened.

They came from Beijing, Holmes answered, adding that their speed is in part explained by Chinese interest in the "high level police delegation" that he confirmed had been meeting with Mr. Annabi. But China's Ambassador said they are only "on their way" -- through Vancouver, Inner City Press is told. Inner City Press asked him to confirm the Chinese delegation's meeting with Annabi and he did, but said "I have no more information." Afterwards, one wag snarked, "Google it."

  This afternoon there is another press conference, by UN Peacekeeping, and a stakeout by Ban Ki-moon. There is another, less publicized event that Inner City Press is looking into. Watch this space.

Update of 2:33 p.m., North Lawn Conference Building entrance, fruitless Bill Clinton stakeout -- Ban's schedule was amended, to include a photo op with Bill Clinton at 2:45. But apparently the shots will be only by the UN's inhouse media. Several independents mill about in the back entrance of the UN's new building. "You can't put your laptop there," Inner City Press is told.

  Back in the (old) Conference Building, Mulet and Dmitry Titov are briefing Troop Contributing Countries. Ban will brief member states at 4, and do another stakeout for the Press at 5. It's all Haiti, all the time. But what is the UN accomplishing?

Update of 2:52 p.m. -- twenty stray reporters, many with cameras, mill about on the raw cement floor of the UN's new building. Not a wisp of Bill Clinton who, it is assumed, will enter via the loading dock on 3B, elevator straight up to the Ban cave on the third. Still it's not without interest, seeing who comes in and out of the UN-KIA. One well placed source, headed upstairs, gives Inner City Press a heads up for a high profile attendee at the General Assembly's 4 p.m. meeting. More on this to follow.

Update of 3:03 p.m. -- as Haiti's Ambassador to the UN walks into UN-KIA with his Canadian counterpart, Inner City Press and another journalist fall in behind him. The journalist begins, "Mister Ambassador, condolences, can you tell us--"
  "I have no time," the Haitian Ambassador says. "I am going to a meeting."

   Inner City Press nods and followed, to (new) Conference Room 1. In the front, the Haitian Ambassador stops to kiss Anne Veneman on both cheeks. It's the UNICEF executive board meeting, not a meeting about Haiti. The work of the UN goes on. Still, one wonders if this is the best use of Haiti's top UN diplomat's time.

Update of 3:08 p.m. -- "Thank you for being with us today, Mister Ambassador," Anne Veneman says. She will talk about Haiti and what UNICEF is doing. She's checked with the warehouse in Copenhagen. Water tanks are on the way, for 10,000 families. A DHL charter is being loaded in Panama, for 20,000 additional families. UNICEF will focus on children who have been separated from their families.  The Ambassador of Zimbabwe arrives for the meeting.

Update of 3:14 p.m. -- Haiti's Ambassador is now speaking, in French. In this new UN conference room, the seats on the side for the media do not have headphones to hear translation. Great planning.

Update of 3:23 p.m. -- after Haiti's Ambassador, the floor is thrown open for any other member state. And who takes the floor? Luxembourg. Then, the item closed, UNICEF turns to resource generation.

Update of 3:50 p.m. -- out in the hall of UN-KIA, Haiti's Ambassador greets Inner City Press. He recalls questions asked about abuse by and repatriation of Sri Lankan peacekeepers with MINUSTAH. Of Michele Montas, he didn't know she was in Haiti but will check. And we believe him.

Update of 3:57 p.m. -- and now the news, such as it is, that Inner City Press held back upon request. Bill Clinton will speak to the General Assembly at 4 p.m. in Conference Room 4. All staff members, as well as the press, are sent up to the first floor gallery. In the hallway, DSG Migiro stops. Sad day. Her chief of staff Parfait says the same. Still there are many "Happy New Years" being exchanged in the hall. It's one last day, at least, of the old UN. But where is Bill Clinton?

Update of 4:01 p.m. -- Israel's Ambassador Shalev walks in. Inner City Press does not ask her about Dori Gold. (We will have more on this.)

Update of 5:02 p.m. -- Top peacekeepers Alain Le Roy and Susana Malcorra put confirmed deaths -- of which families have been notified, they say -- at 14: 10 Brazilians (7 of them at Checkpoint 22, not in Hotel Christopher), three Jordanians and one Haitian staff member.

   When Inner City Press asks a spokesperson how many national staff the UN has in Haiti, there is no clear answer. On camera, Inner City Press repeats its noon question still unanswered, whether Port au Prince was a "family duty station."

  No, Ms. Malcorra says, UN international staff were not supposed to bring their families. But some did. (Inner City Press has reported on this phenomenon before.)  On whether the Christopher Hotel was MOSS compliant, she says it's "a process," and aknowledges that improvement were in the budget. We'll have more on this.

  Bill Clinton and Ban were scheduled to appear for a stakeout at 5 p.m.. But down in Conference Room 1, the U.S. is speaking, through its Number Three Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo.

Update of 5:23 p.m. -- now Georgia's Ambassador is speaking, Ban on the podium looking pained. And, minutes later, Russia is speaking.

Update of 5:44 p.m. -- and now, back to back, Venezuela and Colombia.

Update of 5:55 p.m. -- now in the gallery / cheap seats of Conference Room 1. Bill Clinton nowhere in sight. On the podium: Mr. Ban, Ms. Migiro, Cameroon's Ambassador, Alain Le Roy and USG Shaaban Shaaban. In the second row, Kim Won-soo and Vijay Nambiar. That's the top UN officials, listening to repetitive speeches. Does this show their commitment? Is this the best way to be spending time?

Update of 5:58 p.m. -- perhaps on this very topic, Mr. Ban whispers to Kim,Won-soo, who descends from the podium to speak to Spokesman Nesirky. Are they concerned about the ramifications -- in coverage -- of leaving the press waiting for more than a hour for the second time this week? Why continue to express surprise that things go slowly with the General Assembly, when everyone can speechify at length?

Update of 6:02 p.m. -- Ban is wrapping up, saying he is humbled. Sad update, he says: FIFTEEN UN staff are now confirmed dead. Three Jordanians, 11 Brazilians, 1 Argentinian and 1 Chadian police officer. But that's sixteen! And what about the Haitian national staff member mentioned by Le Roy? And the other national staff members?

Update of 6:46 p.m. -- Ban Ki-moon came upstairs and did a stakeout, sans Bill Clinton. Now he used the number 16, but again did not mention the Haitian national staff member listed as dead by Alain Le Roy and Ms. Malcorra. Afterwards, Inner City Press waited to asked Spokesman Nesirky. Nesirky read out loud portions of an email from Michele Montas, that 80% of the city is destroyed. He said he assumes she would want this information made public.  About the Haitian national staff member dropped between presentations by DPKO and Mr. Ban, he said he too had noticed the discrepancy and would look into it. We'll see.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -