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On Climate Refugees, No UNDP View, Debt in Caribbean Not Pacific, Layoffs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 28 -- The UN says it is doing its all for Small Island Developing States, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will convene a meeting of the UN's Chief Executives Board on Samoa in early September.

  But will climate change refugees be on the agenda? Apparently not.

 On August 28, Inner City Press asked the Permanent Representative of Vanuatu, as well as his co-panelist from the UN Development Program, for their positions on environmental refugees.  UNDP apparently has no position; Vanuatu's Odo Tevi called it sensitive and said there is no solution in sight.

  Inner City Press is informed the concept is not in the outcome document for the Samoa meeting. At this Third International Conference on SIDS there, one of the topics is “debt sustainability.” But what is the UN system doing about that?

    On this, UNDP's Deputy Director for the Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Nicholas Rosellini, said debt is a bigger problem in the Caribbean than in the Pacific. Vanuatu's Odo Tevi said that given "new models" coming up, it would be good to be cautious. We don't hear enough from Vanuatu, so Odo Tevi's comments were appreciated.

  Because UNDP has declined to directly answer questions about the layoffs planned under Administrator Helen Clark, despite extensive complaints from staff unions, to endeavor to understand the specifics of the cuts Inner City Press asked Rosellini how UNDP's research would be impacted.

  Rosellini said UNDP has three centers in the Pacific, and cited one in Suva which will continue as-is. The same was previously said about UNDP's Human Development Report arm. So where are the cuts?

  Recently UNDP refused to answer simple Inner City Press questions about irregularities in programs it adminsters in Afghanistan, then only answered after two weeks, following Inner City Press questions at a half dozen UN noon briefings. With this type of stonewalling, with no end in sight, the questions must continue.

 By contrast, even the International Monetary Fund answers questions -- for example, Inner City Press' question on ebola on August 28, here. The IMF is sending Min Zhu to Samoa: we'll have more on this.

 On Gaza, Inner City Press on July 24 asked the International Monetary Fund for its estimate of the economic impact of the conflict in both Gaza and Israel, including specifically with the FAA and now Delta and other airlines' decisions on access to Ben Gurion Airport.

  IMF Deputy Spokesperson William Murray read out Inner City Press' Gaza question (and others from Inner City Press on Ukraine and Liberia) at the IMF's embargoed briefing on July 24. On Gaza, the IMF's Murray answered Inner City Press:

“With the conflict ongoing, it is too soon to make an accurate assessment of the impact, which will depend on the conflict's duration. Post-conflict reconstruction poses risk to Palestinian Authority finances absent additional donor financing. The Palestinian Authority does not have fiscal room to take on this additional burden.”

  On Israel, after noting that he saw news of renewed access to Ben Gurion Airport, Murray answered Inner City Press:

“As for Israel, Israel financial market have remained stable, with shekel steadily appreciating, the Tel Aviv 100 has been little changed in past two weeks. The cost of the conflict of past two weeks, point two percent of GDP... The impact on economic activity, tourism and SMEs in southern Israel has already been felt. A further deceleration of GDP growth could be likely in 3d quarter. Once conflict ends we expect growth in Israel to rebound relative quickly.”

A tale of two economies, you might call it. Watch this site.


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