Monday, March 1, 2010

At UN, Misdirection on Census in Iraq and Congo, of Kirkuk and the Kivus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 25 -- The UN helps countries like Iran, Liberia and the Congo conduct their census, but glosses over the tough questions. On February 25 Inner City Press asked Nuha Al-Sharma, Executive Census Director of Iraq's COSIT, if the October census will take into account the two or more rounds of ethnic cleansing around Kirkuk and its oil fields, regarding Kurds. Video here, from Minute 42:45.

"There is no ethetic data," she responded. This seemed to mean no "ethnic" data. But after the briefing, UNFPA's Mr. Luay Shabaneh confirmed that the census will ask if a person is Kurdish, Turkenman or Arab. He said a curfew will be announced, then people counted in their homes, with fingerprinting is necessary. So why wasn't that said during the briefing?

When Inner City Press asked the DR Congo's Gregoire Kankwanda Ebuleland is the census there will count FDLR rebels from Rwanda, he bristled that "outsiders" often "do not have good information." He insisted that there are only "pockets" of resistance in the Congo.

Inner City Press asked Paul Cheung the director of the Statistics Division of UNDESA if the UN would be helping Haiti with a census, given the current failure to even register the birth of children. No, he said, Haiti has not asked for help.

UN flies census materials, Sudan 2008: straight answers not shown

Mr. Cheung was listed as the moderator of the press conference, but no one seemed to have organized anything. The Liberian representative Edward Liberty droned on for fifteen minutes -- who could stop him?

The DRC's Gregoire Kankwanda Ebuleland spoke only in French, although no translation was provided. After he finished -- and Inner City Press asked its question in French -- Mr. Cheung asked, does anyone need translation? It was classic UN -- unrealistically upbeat, badly organized, barely covered and thus unaccountable. And yet here is this report.

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