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As UNICEF Details Violence Against Children, Qs of UN Envoy, Peacekeeping

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 4 -- The prevalence worldwide of violence against children was detailed on September 4 by UNICEF, with charts, statistics and polling. The report is online here.

   Inner City Press asked the three-person UNICEF panel what the UN system itself should be doing about the issue, for example through its peacekeeping missions and the office of the Special Representative on Violence Against Children, Marta Santos Pais.

   The website of that office hasn't been updated since July 22. No tweets since July 25. The response from the UNICEF panel was that both “SRSGs” - that is, including Children and Armed Conflict - get only voluntary funding. That may be part of the problem. But even at the current budget, more might be expected of this office since July 22.

  And in terms of UN Peacekeeping, as Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq minutes later, no child support is yet being paid for children left behind in Haiti by the “peacekeepers.” We'll have more on that.

  Back on August 21 when the Gaza field director of UNICEF Pernilleae Ironside took questions at the UN on August 21, Inner City Press asked her when a Board of Inquiry into the destruction of UN premises like the UNRWA schools will begin. Video here.

Ironside said that will be up to the Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon and UNRWA. Earlier this week Robert Serry told Inner City Press the same thing. But where is the Board of Inquiry? On the one conducted in 2009, Inner City Press reported on how Ban Ki-moon allowed himself to be lobbied and blunted in his cover letter recommendations in the report, later shown in detail by a cable published by Wikileaks.

Does that explain the delay?

Inner City Press also asked Ironside about her statement in her recent Reddit Ask Me Anything that “Gaza's economy has been severely depressed, particularly since the closure of the informal tunnel system with Egypt in July 2013.” Ironside said Gazans are well educated and eager to work, but precluded from doing so; she said the negotiators should take this into account.

Ironside said she previously served the UN in Goma in Eastern Congo, and more recently in Yemen. With the Houthis now in Sana'a, that's something we'd like to hear more about.

The moderator on August 21 began by giving out the first question to Ironside without set-aside, but then allowed the first question to be taken or “reclaimed” by the UN Correspondents Association, a group whose Executive Board tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  There have been no reforms; if anything UNCA, now the UN's Censorship Alliance, more aggressively demands the first question at such briefings, and then usually offers up a softball question of the type the UN likes. Then the same media takes a second question. This is something the Free UN Coalition for Access will continue to oppose -- the UN should not promote hierarchy, censorship, set-asides. Watch this site.


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