Inner City Press is a syndication partner on A Better People. Interested in becoming a Syndication Partner?
By Matthew Russell Lee
Inner City Press: on Friday, UNICEF said there had been 1,600 people killed in the previous week, the highest week so far; and then when asked, UNICEF said, about the basis of the figures, they said, 'ask OCHA.' So I did ask OCHA, and they said its based on UNICEFs monitoring of media reports. The numbers are high, definitely. But the UNs numbers, are they based on media reports, or are they based on the Syrian Observatory? Whats the UN standard for putting in a UNICEF report thats on ReliefWeb, which was announced in Geneva as a solid number? Is it really just the UN reporting to the media what the media already reported?
Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I think you need to ask UNICEF precisely on their sourcing. Let me simply say that its obvious that the United Nations does not have the kind of presence on the ground that would be needed if it would be possible at all to establish accurate figures. I think thats obvious to everybody. Its also obvious that there are many people who are monitoring whats happening inside Syria and are providing figures which obviously need to be treated with appropriate caution. I think you are absolutely right that the figures are high. We heard the Secretary-General and Mr. [Lakhdar] Brahimi say this in the General Assembly just yesterday. The tragedy is that those numbers continue to climb, and yet its almost got to the point where it does not create the waves in the media that it should do, because it has become almost grotesquely commonplace. And thats what the focus should be on. Thats where we need to focus our efforts to try to stem the bloodshed and move things onto a political track.
To some, even inside UNICEF, it also seems important that the numbers announced by the UN be credible, or at least that their sourcing be disclosed as the same time they are announced. The worst is the mis-direction in which UNICEF engaged, saying "call OCHA" when they weren't OCHA's numbers at all.
McCormick replied to Inner City Press, "call OCHA" -- the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
At the time, the UN told Inner City Press it is not in the business of counting the dead -- Inner City Press thought and thinks the UN should at least do this, where it can. But in a credible and transparent way.
More doubts should have been raised: in Syria in 2012, the UN's mission has left after UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said that even observers in armored cars can't get around. How would OCHA have collected figures of the type it refused to release in Sri Lanka in 2009, and why would it (well, UNICEF) release them about Syria in 2012?
Originally published on Inner City Press
on Fri, 14 Sep 2012 00:26:00 +0000