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UN Says Its Highlights Include Things Not Said “Since Time Immemorial"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 1 -- The UN inserted into its “Highlights” of the March 28 noon briefing three responses to Inner City Press which were not in fact delivered or mentioned during that briefing, including one on Sri Lanka and another on Darfur internally displaced people whom the UN allowed to be kidnapped without firing a shot.

On April 1, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey about the Darfuri IDPs and the UN's investigation of its own inaction, and if it was normal to include in briefing Highlights things that didn't actually happen.

Del Buey insisted that such inclusion was fine, “we've been doing this since time immemorial.” So how many days' highlights include things that didn't actually happen?

Inner City Press asked Del Buey if there isn't some say to distinguish between what was actually said, and what the UN might WISH had been said. He said no. So how is a reader, or news producer, to know the difference?

On the UN's investigation of its own inaction as the IDPs were taken, Del Buey said, “Matthew, when it's completed, you'll know.

How? In the Highlights?

The online “Highlights” of the UN's March 28 noon briefing contain responses supposedly delivered at the briefing to questions Inner City Press had been asking all week.

 These were three questions about UN peackeepers' failure to protect internally displaced people in Darfur, about former ruler Bozize's fleeing from the Central African Republic, and the UN's hand-over of de-mining to the Sri Lankan military.

  The “Highlights” state that “the Spokesperson said.” But he didn't, at least not at the briefing. Inner City Press was able to ask only one question, and it concerned Ladsous' stonewalling on his long delayed action on 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, which he supports.

  The question Inner City Press actually asked, and Spokesman Martin Nesirky's actual response, were barely included in the “Highlights” -- in favor of responses that were not given in the briefing. This is the UN.

Here's from the UN's transcript of the March 28 noon briefing.

   But here's from the UN's “Highlights” of the same noon briefing, with nothing on which FARDC units did the rapes in Minova, but instead responses that were not given at the briefing:


Asked a few times this week whether the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) or the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) were involved in transporting Francois Bozizé or his family members from the Central African Republic, the Spokesperson said that the answer is no; neither were involved in transporting anyone from the Bozizé family.

Also asked about an incident in which internally displaced people (IDPs) were taken away by armed men in Darfur, and the role of the UN-African Union Mission, UNAMID, in that incident, the Spokesperson said that the matter is being investigated.

And asked about Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense taking over demining activities in northern Sri Lanka, Nesirky said that the handing over of mine action management and activities to the Ministry of Defense is not a recent initiative. It was planned last year and the handover has always been the ultimate objective.

  There are problems which each of these answers, also e-mailed out on Thursday afternoon, which we'll try to get into this week (Nesirky will be away for the week with Ban Ki-moon in Andorra, San Marino, etc.).

   But the biggest problem is: none of these answers in the “Highlights” of the briefing were actually GIVEN during the briefing. And a main question asked, on March 25 and 26, who the UN let into Inner City Press' office without notice or consent, who took photos and who they gave them to, has yet to be answered. Video here. This is today's UN. Watch this site.

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