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As UN Pitches Vogt at Brown Bag on CAR, Its UNCA Is All Pope & Censorship

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- With rebels in the Central African Republic back on the offensive, taking at least two towns near the country's Congolese border, Inner City Press on Wednesday asked the UN's envoy to CAR Margaret Vogt if she wants renewed Security Council action, if she was in New York for that.

  No, Vogt answered, she is in New York on vacation. She said the Security Council is slated to get a report about CAR -- on April 16. By then, where will the former French colony be?

  Inner City Press asked Vogt about any UN follow up on child soldiers whose release to the UN, according to Sexual Violence in Conflict expert Bangura, had been canceled. Vogt said it is difficult to access those areas now, the Seleka rebels control them.

  Since the chair of the UN Peacebuilding Configuration for CAR has been empty for months since Belgium left it, Inner City Press asked Vogt if it is closer to being filled.

  Numerous European Union sources have told Inner City Press that they want the post; French Ambassador Gerard Araud told Inner City Press on camera that the EU is not a candidate.

  Vogt said she was not at liberty to say. Video here.

  These interchanges took place Wednesday afternoon on the UN's 27th floor, in one of the “brown bag” session which the Department of Public Information has set up. Inner City Press, on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, has presented DPI with ten, now more, proposed reforms, including for due process rules for journalists as the New York Civil Liberties Union requested in mid 2012.

  Things have ground to a halt, seemingly because UN Media Accreditation boss Stephane Dujarric is so close to the old UN Correspondents Association that he can't bring himself to deal with FUNCA, even to respond to its formal requests for clarification.

  On February 27 Dujarric wrote, claiming that some rule or understanding was broken by an Inner City Press report on a February 22 meeting, convened by DPI, at which UNCA President Pamela Falk screamed at Inner City Press, “mugger,” and “you call yourself a journalist.”

  Two FUNCA members immediately reminded Dujarric that Inner City Press has said “you are on the record” and Falk said “he's going to write this up.” Audio here.  But Dujarric has yet to explain or retract his letter.

  Now another false complaint has been filed, by UNCA Executive Committee member Tim Witcher of AFP and Reuters' correspondent Michelle Nichols, about an entirely verbal disagreement, less than what Falk screamed in front of DPI.

  Inner City Press has requested a copy of the complaint, and FUNCA again requests to know the rules, including for false complaints filed in bad faith. Again, no response.

  One reform that DPI did implement, a supposedly non-UNCA bulletin board since UNCA retains its own glassed in bulletin board on which for months in 2012 it displayed a letter denouncing Inner City Press, has already been abused without response.

  UNCA still has its own board, glassed-in, but now is posting more of its material on the non-UNCA board. The UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit has yet to do anything. It is absurd. But there seems no purpose to raise it to Dujarric, or to DPI to refer to Dujarric.

  Meanwhile on March 13, for the Security Council's meeting on Sierra Leone, not a single UNCA member came to cover it. The Vogt / CAR brown bag was sparsely attended. At the stakeout for the General Assembly's memorial to Hugo Chavez, only three Spanish media and one other television station, and Inner City Press. Video here.

The UNCA “leaders” were upstairs in their cubicles re-tweeting each other about the Pope, and about Security Council stories they played no part in, not asking the questions at the stakeout or in front of the Council. Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau was chatting, in the middle of the Chavez session, with another complainant. Perhaps this is the group Dujarric prefers to “partner” with because demands so little, and is so lame.

  The “information,” bearing Falk's signature block, which UNCA posted on the non-UNCA bulletin board, it did not put on its own, or on its moribund website which continues to promote a months' old donation.

   What about an accounting for UNCA's $250 a plate dinner? What about a copy of the frivolous and pre-textual complaint filed by its “leaders”? Watch this site.

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