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Jewish World Review
Jan. 6, 2004
/ 26 Teves, 5765
If bureaucracy and BS could fill an empty stomach, the UN could feed the world
"The U.S. military has arrived and is clearly establishing its presence
everywhere in Banda Aceh," said the Jan. 2nd situation report by Dutch
diplomats in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia. "They have completely taken over
the military hospital, which was a mess until yesterday but now is
completely up and running. They brought big stocks of medicines, materials
for the operations rooms, teams of doctors, water and food...
"U.S. helicopters fly to places which haven't been reached for the whole
week and drop food... No talking but action. European countries are until
now invisible on the ground."
"U.S. Navy flying aid missions, Bundeswehr still looking things over," said
the headline Jan. 3rd in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel (the Mirror).
"While advance teams of the Bundeswehr (German army) are still camping in
three tents at the Banda Aceh airport, Americans, Australians and New
Zealanders have already flown tons of aid packages into disaster areas."
At least the Germans were on the scene. On Jan 3rd, Canada's Disaster
Assistance Response Team was still in Canada.
Apparently unaware of the irony, the Canadian Broadcasting Company reported
that "the (Canadian) military created DART in 1996 because of its experience
in Rwanda two years earlier, when international relief organizations arrived
too late to save thousands of people from a cholera epidemic. That
convinced the federal government it needed to be able to respond more
quickly." Maybe next tsunami.
While Americans, Australians and Kiwis were feeding the hungry and treating
the sick and injured, the United Nations was setting up headquarters in a
five star hotel, planning conferences, and claiming credit for the work of
"In Aceh today 50 trucks of relief supplies are arriving," UN Undersecretary
General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said at a news conference New
Year's Day. "Tomorrow, we will have eight full airplanes arriving."
A foreign service officer (and blogger) working on disaster relief told
colleagues in the U.S. Agency for International Development what Egeland had
said. "Their heads nearly exploded," said the Diplomad, who obtained the
Dutch sitrep quoted above.
"The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID
folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local
contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers and fuel; organized the convoy and
sent it off to deliver critical supplies.
"A UN air-freight handling centre in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the
Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and
sleeping on the tarmac, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every
day bring in U.S. and Aussie C-130s and the U.S. choppers...We have no fancy
aid workers' retreat... People are dying and what's the first thing the UN
wants to do? Set up a camp for relief workers, one that would be 'fully
self contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything."
On Jan. 4th, another UN assessment team arrived in Aceh, the Diplomad
reported. It's purpose is to coordinate the activities of the other
assessment teams, and to "coordinate all military assistance because the
military do not have experience in disaster relief."
What chutzpah. As of Jan. 4th, the UN had yet to feed a single refugee.
"Nobody wants to be 'coordinated' by the UN," the Diplomad said. "The local
UN reps are getting desperate. "They've flown in more UN big shots to
lecture us all on the need to work together, i.e., let the UN take credit.
With (UN Secretary General) Kofi (Annan) about to arrive for a big
conference, the UNocrats are scrambling to show something, anything, as a UN
Early last month, Democratic party foreign policy big shots held an
"intervention" with Annan in the Manhattan apartment of Richard Holbrooke,
who had been UN ambassador during the Clinton administration. They backed
Kofi and the UN, but were concerned that the oil for food scandal, and the
coverup of sexual harassment by one of Annan's top aides were tarnishing the
The advice these worthies gave Annan was, essentially, to put more lipstick
on the pig. Better public relations, more meetings with officials in
If bureaucracy and BS could fill an empty stomach, the UN could feed the
world. To the chattering classes, what matters is not the good deed, but
who gets credit for it.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
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