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On Guinea Bissau, UN Won't Answer on Ramos-Horta Moonlighting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- Ten days before the Guinea Bissau meeting on May 19 of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: I'd like to ask about Guinea-Bissau and then some press freedom questions... can you confirm that Jose Ramos Horta is leaving? It's said that heís leaving to go work at UBrainTV based in Tokyo and quote, ďhe has been an adviser for UbrainTV for more than a year.Ē I wanted to know, is it permissible to be a full-time SRSG and also be an adviser to a for-profit company? Was this cleared by the ethics office?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: I donít have any information about any other business that Mr. Ramos Horta may or may not have, so I donít have any comment on that. Certainly, he continues with his work right now though.

  Since that May 9 exchange there has been no information from the UN Spokesperson's office. Inner City Press held off on this report, out of respect for Ramos-Horta. But doesn't the UN have to answer?

Guinea Bissau is poor and is getting poorer, even as the UN and International Monetary Fund crank out reports about transit strikes and cashew prices.

  An IMF team under Mauricio Villafuerte visited Bissau from February 10 to 13, and has today concluded that "Growth and fiscal prospects for 2014 hinge on the success of the cashew campaign and external support. The mission highlighted the importance of setting clear policy guidelines as soon as possible to avoid the uncertainty that undermined last yearís cashew campaign. In this context, the mission suggested to suspend contributions toward the industrialization program (FUNPI)."

  Meanwhile UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's report on Guinea Bissau, to be formally issued later as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2014/105, highlights strikes by teachers and in the transport sector, and that "the drop in cashew nut prices in 2013 was one of the main shocks for 74 percent of households."

  The "socio-economic" section of Ban Ki-moon report on Bissau doesn't mention the FUNPI industrialization program to which the IMF suggests suspending contributions. Industrialization, we hardly knew ye.

  Ban Ki-moon's 16-page report on Guinea Bissau devotes two long paragraphs to "74 individuals claiming to be Syria nationals who had arrived in Bissau from Casablanca, attempted to board a commercial flight to Lisbon with fake Turkish passports... the air crew were allegedly forced to transport the 74 individuals to Lisbon [where they] requested asylum from Portugal. The airline suspended its flights to and from Bissau."

  As an aside, despite much European hand-wringing about Syria, the number of refugees and asylum seekers taken has been extremely low. Inner City Press asked UNHCR's Syria coordinator Amin Awad about that, for that video, from Minute 15:50, click here. Watch this site.


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