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UNRWA's Grandi Cites Range of Groups in Yarmouk, Tripoli Complex, VICE

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- With the UNRWA refugee camp for Palestinians in Yarmouk, Syria, having only on-again, off-again access to food and other aid, outgoing UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi held his last press conference in that role at UN Headquarters on February 11.

  Inner City Press asked Grandi which groups UNRWA has to deal with to get access to Yarmouk, beyond the PFLP-GC and the government: how about Jabhat al Nusra, one of the groups reputed to have snipers eying all aid deliveries to the camp?

  Grandi acknowledged there are a range of groups in the camp, but said UNRWA deals with them through the government: that is, the government tries to arrange cessations of firing to get the aid in. This is not always what is reported, nor was it the tenor or much of the questioning of Grandi on February 11.

  Claiming the first question, automatically despite its documented and unreformed record of trying to get media thrown out of the UN, the United Nations Correspondents Association's president Pamela Falk of CBS cited starvation as a weapon of war and disputes about UNRWA's curriculum, all the while name-dropping a trip with Ban Ki-moon. Video here from Minute 18:48.

   An hour later the focus was on Syria's government questioning men leaving Homs -- with no focus on South Sudan police action around the UN's camp in Juba (more on that later today). This is propaganda-ville. So the new Free UN Coalition for Access also thanked and thanks Grandi. Video here, from Minute 32:10.

  Going in another direction, Al-Mayadeen asked about the destroyed UNRWA camp outside of Tripoli in Lebanon. Grandi to his credit said that Arab donors should do more, naming Qatar and Kuwait. He said Tripoli is "complication" -- bringing to mind VICE NEWS' recent five part piece about Alawites and Sunnis in Tripoli, click here to view.

  Inner City Press also asked Grandi on what terms he had settled or put off the two month long strike by UNRWA workers. He said it was a return to square one, the same terms as below. His successor from the ICRC Pierre Krähenbühl will presumably take over from there. We wish both of them well.


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