Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Millennial Challenges: Demanding transparency and accountability from Incompetent International Journalists!

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;,,

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia:

Millennial Challenge: Making the International Journalists accountable is part of the Global Good Governance Movement- Mr Gettleman and New York Times have to be held accountable for incompetence and deliberate collaboration and enabling of known regional terrorists.

Please read the following account, which is very important, as the "he-say, she-say" type of incompetent reporting is being exposed.

Surely, the New York Times can do better, than this and we all should demand decent and professional journalism and not allow gettlemaning critical international reports.

Here is an interesting evolving story and we need to ask for more details and investigations, on who said, when, and most importanly why?

Dr B of GSE for PP


The Ogaden Crisis

By Mathew Russell, InnerCity Press

July 25, 2007

Ethiopia's Meles Goes from Strategic Starver to UN
Partner in a Day, Ogaden Games in the Times

UNITED NATIONS, July 23 -- Does the UN system have
humanitarian access to the Ogaden region of Ethiopia
or not? In the July 22 New York Times, the director of
the UN World Food Program in Ethiopia, Mohammed Diab,
was quoted that ''Food cannot get in."

Further inquiry by Inner City Press yields
responses that imply either that the New York Times
misquoted the UN official or the UN system is backing
away from the statement -- or both. Two separate UN
explanations are quoted extensively below.

The after-the-fact spinning may be explained by the
fact that the UN, whose Security Council declined to
criticize Ethiopia's ongoing incursion into Somalia
which began last December, and whose humanitarian
coordinator in Somalia urged uncritical support of the
Ethiopia-backed Transitional Federal Government, is in
a conflicted position with regard to human rights
violations by the government of prime minister Meles
Zenawi in Ethiopia.

The Times article had another, seemingly non-UN
quote: "'It's a starve-out-the-population strategy,'
said one Western humanitarian official, who did not
want to be quoted by name because he feared reprisals
against aid workers. 'If something isn't done on the
diplomatic front soon, we're going to have a
government-caused famine on our hands.'"

Perhaps the UN now wishes that WFP's
director of Ethiopia had also demanded anonymity --
some say that his candor, meant to highlight the
impending starvation of civilians, is not kindly
looked upon by others in the UN system who have a more
go-along to get-along attitude.

Or was the tough talk, and then stepping-away, a
sort of high-stakes diplomatic game in which bad press
is threatened if food is not released? Already in the
U.S. Congress there are moves to condemn or de-fund
Ethiopia. Will a retraction or amplification not be
sought from the New York Times because the story, from
the UN's point of view, fulfilled its purpose? Is this
the function of journalism, or more specifically of
humanitarian journalism?

At Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's noon
briefing on July 23, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: The people in that region called for
some kind of UN inquiry. So one, are you aware of
that call for an inquiry? And two, what is the UN
going to do if its humanitarian agencies are denied
access to regions they are supposed to be serving?

Deputy Spokesperson: To be completely truthful, I
have received many pages of reaction from the
humanitarian agencies on this report. So, I think I'd
rather share with you this report afterwards. OCHA --
the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs -- the World Food Program and the World Health
Organization, all of which have programs in this
region which they consider to be the poorest area of
Ethiopia, have reactions to this. And rather than go
through the whole Q&A here, I think I would rather
share the whole thing with you afterwards... (Video
here, from Minute 10:06).

But the "whole thing" wasn't shared. When
Inner City Press afterwards asked for the three
sub-agencies' reactions, at first the (mis) direction
was to contact WFP. While Inner City Press sent WFP's
New York spokesperson an e-mail, the response at the
noon briefing was that three agencies' reactions --
"the whole thing" -- would be shared afterward the
briefing. It was never explained why, as to a fourth
agency, UNICEF, involved in the polio program
described in the Times article, no reaction was
provided, or even apparently sought.

Ten hours later, no World Health
Organization reaction had been provided. As to OCHA,
the deputy spokesperson said that, "as I mentioned
earlier, John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs will be here tomorrow. So, I
think maybe he will in a better position to also brief
you on that."

The WFP written statement provided tried
to back away from the agency's Ethiopia director's
quote, and stated that the New York Times presented it
out of context:

The New York Times quoted WFP Country Director Mohamed
Diab as saying this was the first time he had heard of
such diversions, but in fact Mr. Diab said it was the
first time he had heard of allegations of a government
blockade on the region... The New York Times quotes
Western humanitarian officials as estimating that up
to 30 percent of food aid to the Somali region is
diverted and that to cover their tracks soldiers and
government administrators tell aid agencies that the
food assistance has been spoiled or been stolen or
hijacked by the rebels.

WFP is surprised by such a statement - we take
seriously this allegation of major food diversion, and
will quickly investigate together with the government
and other agencies. In Ethiopia, a number of agencies
as well the government provide food assistance - we
will ensure this allegation is raised with all
relevant parties...

Contrary to what is implied by the WFP quote in the
New York Times, WFP does not consider there is a
government 'blockade' on the Somali region as
multi-agency and government assessment teams are
currently working on the ground in three zones, and
WFP food distributions are underway in three other
zones. WFP, however, like FEWS holds that
restrictions on commercial trade and movement of
humanitarian aid because of military operations as
well seasonal floods, rising prices, and other factors
could lead to a humanitarian crisis among pastoral and
agro-pastoral communities in some areas unless the
restrictions are lifted soon.

The dispatch of emergency food assistance was delayed
in some areas because of restrictions on movements of
commercial traffic and humanitarian assistance since a
security operation began in parts of the region in

The government has allowed WFP food assistance into
three zones -- Shinile, Afder and Liben – in the
Somali region and the food is moving now and being
distributed. We have monitors on the ground to check
it is distributed to the people in need.

In addition, the authorities this month allowed
multi-agency and government assessment teams into the
most restricted zones: Fik, Degehabur and part of Gode
zone. The government has also assured us that if those
assessments find there is a need for emergency
assistance then food can be distributed. The
assessment teams will move onto other zones once they
complete the assessments in those three zones.
Assessments are continuous in the region.

The Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency
allocated a total of 9,600 tons of relief food, a
one-month ration, for 530,000 beneficiaries in the
Somali region in May before the assessments. Part of
that 9,600 tons is what is being distributed in the
three regions where assessments were completed.

That is certainly a more upbeat picture of
the situation in Ogaden than was painted by the New
York Times. Inner City Press asked WFP, early Monday
afternoon, if it is saying that Mr. Diab was misquoted
by the Times. In the ten hours since, this direct
questions was not answered.

The OCHA response, received later, is set forth below,
as it mentions WHO:

The United Nations today welcomed efforts by the
Government of Ethiopia to provide much needed
humanitarian assistance to the people of Somali
Regional State. On Saturday, 21 July, the President of
Somali Regional state ordered the release of food to
five zones in the region that have been the subject of
security operations since May of this year.

The United Nations, like other humanitarian actors,
holds that restrictions on commercial trade, including
the delivery of food to rural areas as well as
seasonal floods, rising prices and other factors could
lead to a humanitarian crisis in the region unless
restrictions are eased soon.

Roughly 4.6 million people reside in Somali Region –
the poorest area of Ethiopia. The region is
overwhelmingly rural and consists almost exclusively
of pastoralists / agro-pastoralists, who depend on a
delicate lattice of local and international trade with
Somalia for their survival. There are ongoing concerns
about such health issues as Acute Watery Diarrhoea,
polio, malaria, measles and other infectious diseases.
Approximately 530,000 vulnerable people currently
receive Emergency Food Assistance.

Approximately 1.1.million people are chronically food insecure.
Malnutrition accounts for 8 percent of all deaths.
Last year, a series of floods disrupted the lives of
more than 361,000 people, more than half of the total
flood-affected population of Ethiopia. These events
took place after severe drought affected the lives of
1.4 million.

Recent press reports have stated that UN assistance to
Somali Region has been diverted by Ethiopian military
and militias. The United Nations takes these reports
seriously and investigates all information regarding
misappropriation of resources. However, since
Ethiopia-based food distributions have not taken place
during the period of military operations due to new
modalities in performing assessments, it is hard to
imagine that such diversions existed.

Reports have also indicated that some diversion may
have occurred from the World Health Organization’s
Polio Eradication Program in Somali Region. The WHO
program in the country is unaware of any funds being
diverted from the our polio vaccination program to
members of the Ethiopian Defense."

For the record, we understand that the
Polio Eradication Program is a partnership between WHO
and UNICEF. More generally, one wonders how much the
differences between these UN statements and the
reporting and (UN) quotes in Sunday's is attributable
to the fact that the UN needs to maintain good
relations with the Ethiopian government of Meles
Zenawi in order to maximize (remaining) access.

The impact such backing-away will have in Addis
Ababa, and more importantly in and for the people of
Ogaden, remains to be seen.

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