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Interview With OCHA’s Aimee Wielechowski

TRANSCRIPT Chris DeBello: The news and talk shows have made it a hobby of debating and criticizing the UN. If you watch those debates you come away thinking that all the UN does is international diplomacy, politics, and well, arguing. My guest is here to present the other side of the UN; there are countless within the UN as well as via organizations aligned w/ the UN that make a huge difference in our world. One of these organizations features a woman with, well some very local roots. To talk more about this and the UN Foundation is Franklin, NJ native, Aimee Wielechowski. Amy: Good morning, how are you CD: Very good to talk with you and tell the listeners exactly where you are that I am talking to you Amy: I'm actually in Nairobi in Kenya right now, waiting to go north to Khartoum in Sudan where I'll be working for the next four to six weeks or so. CD: And just to make it totally official I want to give your full title. You are the response Officer, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Internal Displacement Division. Home base is Geneva, that must be a very large business card you need for a title like that. Amy: Indeed, yes I work through OCHA, we're called, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs which is part of the UN secretariat, yes, and part of a relatively new division called the Internal Displacement Division which really tries to look at how we can solve the problems faced by the millions of people who are displaced from their homes by war or natural disaster but who haven't crossed the border so they're not refugees so there's no body of law to assist them except their own national bodies of law, so we're working with national governments and other humanitarian agencies to try and find ways to help millions of people who are displaced by conflict and natural disasters.
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Blog Roundup #8

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary Democracy Arsenal: "Top 10 Things the UN Does Well - The approach of D-Day on John Bolton makes this as good a time as any to remind ourselves why the UN matters and some of the ways that we count on it. As you know, I am guest-blogging this week on Dan Drezner. Check out that site for some items that ought to be on the UN's list of strengths, but aren't, and for my best assessment of who and what is to blame." Chrenkoff: "Good news from Iraq, part 27 - Speaking of urban renewal, "The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), together with the Iraqi Ministry of Municipality and Public Works and the Construction and Housing Ministry, is holding a two-day round-table meeting beginning tomorrow in Amman, Jordan, on a "Slum Upgrading Strategy for Iraq." Huffington Post [Rep. Ed Markey]: "Today, I will join Hans Blix at the United Nations for a discussion on the need to balance disarmament and non-proliferation. The real "nuclear option" that threatens our national security is not the one being debated in the Senate - this nuclear option will end in a devastating plume of smoke over our cities."
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UN Worker Killed in Afghan Blast

"A U.N. engineer from Myanmar was among three people killed when a suicide attacker walked into a Kabul Internet cafe and blew himself up, officials said Sunday, in the first fatal attack on a U.N. staffer in the capital since the fall of the Taliban in 2001." Full Story
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Nuclear Weapons Salvage Becomes Art

"An exhibition of 19 sculptures by Tony Price (1937-2000), created from nuclear weapons salvage, will be on display at the United Nations through June 9th in the South Gallery of the General Assembly Visitors' Lobby." LINK
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Blog Roundup #7

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary Agonist: "The previous Bolton Thread was too long, thus, we have a new one." Blue Glow Worm: "As I have said in Questioning our U.N. Role from March 17th, the U.N. has a role to play in the world. However, there is little doubt, that reform of the United Nations is necessary and should be a requirement before continuing forward. A report requested by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and published in December, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, is a starting point." Democracy Arsenal: "Nearly eight months after calling the mass killings in the Darfur region genocide and doing the heavy lifting on a resolution to get the UN involved, the Administration seems to have backed away from that term, and from any sustained effort to address the crisis." Fistful of Euros: "Views of immigration are changing. Back in the mists of time, when I first came to the conclusion that ongoing demographic changes were going to be important, the voices in favour of a reconsideration of immigration policy were few and far between. Perhaps the first and most notable of these voices was the UN population division." Juan Cole: "Hmm. Maybe, contrary to what John Bolton says, the United Nations does exist after all. Maybe a lot of countries even pay more attention to it than they do to Washington."
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Angelina Jolie Visits Afghan Refugees

"United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie today saw off a convoy of trucks carrying Afghans home from Pakistan, pushing the total number of those repatriating with help from the UN refugee agency past the 50,000 mark for the year. The Academy Award-wining actress arrived yesterday in Pakistan for a four-day visit to focus world attention on the plight of Afghan refugees. The 500 refugees who left Attock in the 35-vehicle convoy were all skilled carpet weavers carrying their talents back to their original homes in the northern Afghan provinces of Balkh and Jozan." Read more...
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Blog Roundup #6

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary Betsy's Page: "Joel Mowbray, who does some of the more interesting investigative journalism of any columnist, reminds us of the love fest that Richard Holbrooke faced before a GOP Senate Committee when he was nominated to be Ambassador to the UN." Blog Critics: "Is the United Nations necessary in spite of its failures? The answer is yes and the reason is because there is no other international forum of comparable importance and almost global representation." Dead Pool: "Uncle Walter waves his NO NUKES sign a bit higher in the face of the old news networks... "When it comes to reporting on nuclear arms, the U.S. news media let readers and viewers down, giving them only part of the story, former news anchor Walter Cronkite said Wednesday. The celebrated CBS retiree, joining in a panel discussion on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty." Knitting for Boozehags: "Surely we can find a nominee for UN Ambassador that America can support and get behind -- not someone who divides our country and alienates our allies."