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It Happened at the UN: Week Ending July 5

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UN Press Briefing with Maritza Chan-Valverde and Izumi Nakamitsu.
Izumi Nakamitsu, left, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Costa Rican Ambassador Maritza Chan, president of the recent fourth review conference to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, met with media on July 1. Chan said the results of the conference included a political declaration promoting the reduction of “human suffering.”  JOHN PENNEY/PASSBLUE

Happy July 5th! Welcome to This Week @UN: WFP corruption?; Russia on Gaza and DPRK. Plus: More Gaza, Hurricane Beryl.

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Our #1 story this week: World Food Program’s Boss in Southern Africa Resigns Amid Hints of Corruption

#1 this month: Prostitution: Righting a Wrong at the UN (op-ed)

• The annual UN General Assembly gathering of world leaders is two months away, so PassBlue is thinking ahead, making a pitch for donations now to strengthen our editorial budget for reporting on the inevitably chaotic but exciting UNGA. Please donate now so that we are ready to cover the biggest event of the year at the UN in New York City. — Our thanks from the PassBlue team

• PassBlue obtained a copy of Secretary-General António Guterres’s mandated report on Cyprus to the Security Council and the report on the UN peacekeeping mission, called UNFICYP. The Council is scheduled to review (behind closed doors) the reports on July 11. Our related story: The Divided Island of Cyprus Has a New Chance to Unify. One Side Seems Ready.

From PassBlue this week:

World Food Program’s Boss in Southern Africa Resigns Amid Hints of Corruption, scoop by Damilola Banjo

Russia Concentrates on the Gaza Crisis While Pounding Ukraine, by Damilola Banjo

• ‘We Didn’t Start That War’: Russia Still Twists the Truth About Ukraine, a podcast episode produced by Damilola Banjo and Olivia Nudbuisi, accompanying the monthly UN Security Council Presidency column, above.

Top UN news:

Monday, July 1

Spokesperson’s briefing: UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the US-built Trident pier anchored off the coast of Gaza “is not operating,” and that the UN doesn’t have the “green light” from security colleagues to resume operations there. The World Food Program (WFP), however, has contracted a private company to move the aid that has piled up on the beach from the pier to a WFP warehouse. On the “general lawlessness that the UN and aid groups are confronting in Gaza,” Dujarric said the UN asked for “an effective coordination and deconfliction system with the Israeli authorities, which we don’ feel we have now,” as well as “permission to bring in the equipment that we feel is necessary to enhance the security of our staff,” including armored vehicles.

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Tuesday, July 2

Spokesperson’s briefing: Sigrid Kaag, the UN’s senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, told the Security Council that there has been an “increase in the volume of commercial cargo entering Gaza, albeit irregularly,” but aid coming into Gaza has “dropped significantly” since Israel’s large-scale attack on Rafah began in early May, forcing its crucial border crossing into Egypt to close. Kaag said military activity, lack of safe routes inside Gaza and a “near-total breakdown of civil order” has led to an “environment of lawlessness and criminality” that is hindering the UN’s ability to deliver aid.

• A mountain peak in Kyrgyzstan was named after the UN.

• Rosemary DiCarlo, head of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefed media on her separate session with Afghan civil society — including women’s rights advocates — after she led a recent conference with the Taliban in Doha. Yet details on the Taliban’s insistence on keeping older girls out of school and women from working across all job sectors are never broached fully in the briefing.

Video of party given by the US mission for diplomats and media to celebrate the Fourth of July
The US mission to the UN held a party for diplomats and media to celebrate the Fourth of July. Here, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Video by Damilola Banjo and Olusyana Babafemi for PassBlue.

Wednesday, July 3

Spokesperson’s briefing: Dujarric said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is working closely with officials in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Grenada to help deal with effects of Hurricane Beryl in the Caribbean, the earliest storm to hit on record in the season. Grenada and St. Vincent were reporting that “hundreds of people are in shelters.” Guterres appealed to the world to “show solidarity with all the Caribbean countries that have been hit or may find themselves in the path of this deadly storm.” OCHA is also dispatching teams to Belize and Jamaica before the expected landfall of the hurricane.

[UPDATE, July 5: UN representatives in Jamaica and Barbados/Eastern Caribbean briefed media, saying that at least one death has been reported in Jamaica and 40 percent of the population is lacking electricity. In the latter area, UN agencies are working with regional disaster-management organizations on mitigating the effects of Beryl. Overall, communications remain difficult amid severe logistical and access challenges due to the high seas. Air-control towers and desalination plants have been destroyed in parts of the region; Caricou is the hardest-hit island in Grenada]

Thursday, July 4: The UN was closed for the US holiday.

Friday, July 5: The UN spokesperson’s office held a briefing on Hurricane Beryl: see Wednesday’s update.


We welcome your comments on this article.  What are your thoughts on Russia's Security Council presidency?

Arthur Bassas

Arthur Bassas is a researcher and writer who graduated from St. Andrews in Scotland, majoring in international relations and terrorism. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and speaks English and French.

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