Tags: UN | Haiti | ship | aid

Some U.N. Workers in Haiti Live on Cruise Ship

Friday, 09 Apr 2010 10:05 AM

The U.N. is spending over $10 million to house some of its Haiti relief workers on a pair of chartered cruise ships -- one of which has been dubbed the "Love Boat" by U.N. staff -- and some of the funds are going to a company closely linked to the government of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

For the United Nations World Food Program, it was a moment of satisfaction: the U.N.'s flagship relief agency announced on its Web site on March 19 that two gleaming passenger ships had docked in ravaged Port au Prince harbor.

What the Web site announcement did not disclose was that the vessels were intended to house not homeless Haitian refugees, but employees of the U.N. itself. Nor did it publicize the cost of leasing the ships: $112,500 a day. Nor did it mention that one of the vessels is owned by a company closely linked to the government of Venezuelan strongman President Hugo Chavez.

Another thing not mentioned: Even U.N. staffers regularly refer to one of the ships as "the Love Boat."

Then the WFP apparently had second thoughts about the whole announcement.

A slideshow photo essay had shown the two vessels, the Ola Esmeralda and the Sea Voyager, at berths near the earthquake-shattered Haitian capital. Then the photos and the story disappeared, not only from the home page but apparently from the WFP's public news story Web archive.

The official explanation from a WFP spokesman: "Photos, text and video material are regularly being added and removed from WFP's Web site as stories are refreshed, restructured and replaced."

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The U.N. is spending over $10 million to house some of its Haiti relief workers on a pair of chartered cruise ships -- one of which has been dubbed the "Love Boat" by U.N. staff -- and some of the funds are going to a company closely linked to the government of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
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2010-05-09
Friday, 09 Apr 2010 10:05 AM
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