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At UN, Questions on Sudan, Sri Lanka & Haiti Left Unanswered Amid Free Lunch & Happy Talk, No Q&A

[Inner City Press, Sunday, 21 November 2010 09:29 No Comment]

Rather than answer questions, the UN tries to fill the time of Q&A with Pollyanna information about which the press corps has no questions or apparently interest. Outside, a free lunch is served, as if to guarantee attendance. To this has the UN been reduced.

On November 19, the noon briefing was truncated with only a handful of questions allowed by acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq — despite riots against the UN in Haiti, and funding reversals for the Southern Sudan referendum vaguely acknowledged in UN reports — so that a press conference could be held about the UN’s role in industrial development in Africa.

  After two statements were read out, not a single question was asked by the journalists in attendance, in a briefing room with two chairs roped off due to bed buds.

Moments later a free lunch was served, apparently this was the inducement for attendance if not questions. But what questions could be asked?

In fact, the UN has been chased out of Chad, and increasingly out of the Congo and Nepal. There are riots against the UN in Haiti — not unrelated to Nepal — and hearings being scheduled for next year in the US House of Representatives.

Here are two sample questions long left unanswered though submitted in writing to the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General, another time that they canceled their noon briefing:

1) On Darfur, some question why JMAC data is not on UNAMID’s web site, some say it is routinely and selectively leaked. Please respond, and whether these figures include Tarabat market.

2) Please confirm or deny that staff of Mr. Deng’s Prevention of Genocide office are asked to work on his books, quantify what amount of time and whether this complies with UN rules, and if the books should be attributed to the UN.

This last question has actually been asked three times without answer, as have questions about the Secretary General’s links with Sri Lanka and its leadership, which Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky has said may never be answered.

  The Secretary General himself did a rare stakeout on November 18, but only read a statement, taking not a single question, even on the anti-UN riots and claims in Haiti. Then he left headquarters again.

UN’s Ban & Akasaka on Nov 18, answers to questions not shown

Simply going back the three UN working days so far this week, unanswered questions include reports of a deadly bombing in Darfur (asked Nov. 18), any follow up on the murder of UN staffer Louis Maxwell in Afghanistan (asked Nov. 16), bombing of South Sudan by Khartoum (asked Nov. 15) — on which Haq said “we were trying to get some information, but we didn’t have a confirmation of that particular fighting. If we get any further details, including a confirmation, we’d have something.” And in the four days since, nothing.

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