Small Business Tips: Seven Ways To Give To Local Schools and Education

Small businesses that would like to help out schools, school children,and education in their communities, might think that they can't match the large scale efforts of big corporations, written about here earlier, such as Staples that has collected thousands of backpacks for needy school children, or Target that has donated large amounts to school libraries.

What realistically can a small business do that could even make a difference to the local schools that have lost revenue with the current budget cuts, and the students that need to acquire a better education in order to be able to get better jobs?

Small businesses may not have as many resources in time and money that large businesses do, but they do have the opportunity to have more immediate and direct impact. By being closer to the local issues and problems a small business can choose where and how best they can give to education, teachers, students, and schools.

Small businesses can take advantage of sponsorships by paying to have their name and logo on everything from athletic shirts,to plaques on doors, and even buildings such as libraries and gyms, as well as by sponsoring a  variety of programs, events and fundraisers. In a story from USA Today, way back in 2006, in Newburyport, MA, a high school offered businesses the sponsorship rights to the Principal's office for $10,000, an auditorium for $100,000, and  even the English classrooms  for $5,000 each.
There are numerous  fundraisers, special programs, and events where even small amounts of funding can be  helpful. While schools may be wary of this kind of relationship, the benefit to both businesses and schools is clear.
"If it's something that's going to allow us to improve the school system or the city, I don't think it's a bad thing," says Bill Greinke, owner of The Sign Shop of Sheboygan.
2.Donate to a scholarship program
Colleges have become unaffordable for underserved populations and scholarship programs that help send these students to college are critical to helping offset the education gap. Many local communities have scholarship programs through organizations like a local  Rotary Club a Chamber of Commerce, or a Community Foundation. Many community colleges have set up their own scholarship programs, raising money from caring local businesses.Such schools as Hartnell Community College in Salinas, CA receives donations from dozens of local businesses every year towards the Hartnell College Foundation.

Individual small donations  may not seem like a lot, but collectively they add up to helping make a college degree a reality for someone that might not be able to get one otherwise.

3.Start you own collection drive
In a former post, we wrote about Rick Hart of Hayward, CA,. Rick was working for a paper company at the time and so when his son's fourth grade teacher put out a request for donations of paper, Rick brought in a truckload. The teacher burst into tears when she saw the stacks of paper. Rick had not realized up until then  how desperate the need for supplies was in the local public schools.
By engaging clients and customers a business can help support local schools and school children that cannot afford to buy some necessities such as stationary, pencils and tissue paper. Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to buy these items for the classroom or send requests to parents to send some in with their kids. After learning what school supplies are needed; a business can set up a collection bin outside the front door or inside the business. By advertising or through a press release in the local paper, the drive can bring in  a significant amount of supplies that can offset the deficit the schools are experiencing 

The organization, Create the Good has developed a great toolkit that has helpful tips for setting up a collection drive. 

5. Volunteer your skills-tutor or mentor
Skills based volunteering in the form of helping schools with math programs, computer classes, and even technical training is a meaningful way for a small business to become involved.  Small business owners can help students on career days with their resumes and interviewing skills. Contractors all across America are using their skills to help refurbish and build schools as well as school playgrounds through organizations like Kaboom.

Tutoring or mentoring is a unique form of volunteering that has special rewards. Local high schools and community colleges cannot afford to give students the extra academic assistance that many of them need to catch up. Often students need mentoring assistance maneuvering through the maze of the financial aid applications, where it  practically takes someone having the skills of a CPA to manage. Businesses can start their own tutoring and mentoring program in their communities. The organizatin Tutor Mentor Connection has a guide for starting  such a program in a local community.

6. Donate used equipment or extra inventory
One small consulting firm, after remodeling, was looking to donate their used, in good condition, office furniture such as desks, chairs and file cabinets. After a little bit of research, they found within a few miles, a public elementary school  that had so little funding the principal did not even have a desk. The school wholeheartedly welcomed every piece of furniture they received and the business received a tax break for their donation.
Then there is the organization, which we featured earlier, NAEIR, which has collected more than $1.6 billion of inventory from companies such as Microsoft and Reebok and donated it to churches, schools and non-profits across the country.
Old computers can be donated through an organizations such as Computers With Causes .They will repair, refurbish, and properly prepare computers and give them to an educational program.

7. Collaborate with other small businesses to help schools
After Rick Hart heeded the urgent need to help local schools, he came up with a collaborative cause marketing program where local businesses give back a portion of sales to the schools. Another example of collaboration is in Louisiana, where businesses have created a coalition, Businesses for Improving Louisiana’s Development, that address the needs for improving standards in higher education in the state.

A small business can collaborate with other small businesses in the community in many ways:  by hosting joint fund raising events; by creating a scholarship program; by forming a giving circle, and by creating coalitions like the one in Louisiana that can affect educational policy
These types of collaborative efforts can often have far more impact than any one individual business can achieve.

The USA Today's story came out fully four years ago when communities were alerted to the huge deficits in funding back then. The situation has become much more serious.  By carefully giving through the proper channels, businesses can help the the funding gap that is occurring all across communities in this country and help support teachers and the students. After all, businesses giving to schools is not only about funding them, but about businesses feeling a sense of ownership in the community.

Public Service Internship in the Family Court With Senior Partners for Justice

Senior Partners for Justice, a unique pro bono initiative at the Volunteer Lawyers Project, is pleased to offer an internship program for law students who want to provide critical assistance to low-income clients while gaining hands-on experience in the family court.

Founded in 2002 by Hon. Edward M. Ginsburg, a retired justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, Senior Partners for Justice ( includes practitioners of all levels of experience, from retired attorneys and judges to new bar admittees and law students, who handle family law and other matters pro bono for low-income clients who would otherwise go unrepresented.
Interns are placed in the Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk Probate and Family Courts, working directly alongside courthouse staff. This is an unpaid, non-credit internship, but it offers invaluable experience and a flexible schedule that can fit around other commitments.

The program is offered in the summer, fall, and spring semesters and runs for approximately ten weeks. We ask interns to spend at least one full day (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or two half days, preferably mornings, at their courthouse each week.

The nature of the internship is a little different at each court:
• At Suffolk (located near North Station and Government Center), interns staff the very busy Register’s office and have the chance to help the Lawyer for the Day and observe court proceedings.
At Middlesex (located in East Cambridge, at the Lechmere stop of the Green Line), interns rotate between different departments, gaining broad exposure to areas including Divorce and Paternity.
At Norfolk (located in Canton, accessible only by car), interns work directly with the court staff members who assist unrepresented litigants, and they have a chance for more one-on-one interaction at a less busy court.

All participants in the internship program will receive support from the Senior Partners staff and invitations to trainings, luncheons, and other events through Senior Partners and VLP.

If you have questions or would like to sign up, please contact Dyana Boxley at 617-423-0648 x129 or and indicate which days you are available and which courts you prefer. You may also sign up online at The Fall 2010 internship will run from approximately September 13th to December 3rd.

How Not to Win Hearts and Minds


In a U.N. survey, 52% of Afghans said foreign aid organizations 'are corrupt and are in the country just to get rich.'


In June, this newspaper broke the story of how Afghan officials were literally stuffing suitcases with aid money and flying out of the country. As a result, the House foreign aid appropriations subcommittee voted to cut $4.5 billion from the U.S. aid program to Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan is not unique. Indeed, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has long been plagued by accusations of corruption and lack of transparency. But foreign aid bureaucracies traditionally have two contradictory mandates: 1) We must not give aid to corrupt recipients; and 2) We must spend the entire aid budget. No. 2 usually beats No. 1. Aid agencies put a glossy face on this outcome, which makes the victory of corruption even more likely.

An Afghan government report in 2008 (the "Kazimi report") detailed abundant corruption and suggested that aid inflows contributed to it. USAID's own report in 2009 said "corruption is now at an unprecedented scope in the country's history" and that the "tremendous size . . . [of] development assistance . . . increase[s] Afghanistan's vulnerability to corruption." According to Transparency International, Afghanistan went from the 42nd most corrupt country in the world in 2005 to the second most corrupt in 2009 (Somalia was first).

The 2009 USAID report noted that domestic Afghan anticorruption efforts fail because "often the officials and agencies that are supposed to be part of the solution to corruption are instead a critical part of the corruption syndrome." Yet it recommends providing more "resources" to these same corrupt anticorruption fighters.

The report correctly noted that part of the solution to corruption is "transparency and accountability." True, but USAID itself lacks transparency and accountability. The report fails to mention a single USAID program that has suffered from corruption.

I run a blog called Aid Watch together with Laura Freschi at New York University. When we contacted USAID after its 2009 report was released to ask how this could be so, we started informative discussions with the Afghan country desk. Unfortunately, the USAID Press Office quickly intervened, saying that any response had to come from them. Then they failed to provide any such response.

Others have had similar experiences. Till Bruckner, a field-based researcher on corruption in the Republic of Georgia, asked USAID for information on the budgets of the NGOs they funded there. When USAID refused, he filed a Freedom of Information Act request in May 2009. After months of stonewalling, USAID finally responded last month, with copies of NGO budgets—but much of the key information blacked out.Why such impunity? Discussion about corruption in aid has been abundant since then World Bank President James Wolfensohn broke a longstanding taboo on the subject in a speech condemning corruption in 1996. Yet the share of the most corrupt recipients in foreign aid is actually higher today than it was in 1996.

Aid recipients understand unconditional conditions all too well. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai knows that USAID will have to spend its Afghanistan budget no matter what, so he makes some token commitment, does nothing, and indeed the aid keeps flowing.

I can certainly understand why USAID would prefer not to talk about this unsavory equilibrium. But the stakes are far higher in Afghanistan than in the usual aid recipient.

As the war there drags on, we have to ask the following question: Is U.S. aid winning hearts and minds? A U.N. survey taken in January found that 52% of Afghans believe aid organizations "are corrupt and are in the country just to get rich." I don't know much about waging a counterinsurgency, but it seems to me that we're getting very little for our money.

Mr. Easterly is a professor of economics at NYU and author of "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good" (Penguin, 2007).

The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test

Aid Watch: just asking that aid benefit the poor

By Guest Blogger |

The following post was written by Till Bruckner, PhD candidate at the University of Bristol and former Transparency International Georgia aid monitoring coordinator. An op-ed from Bill in Monday’s Wall Street Journal mentioned Till’s struggles with USAID; here Till provides the details.

The aid industry routinely pushes institutions in developing countries to become more transparent and accountable. But a slow and almost comically incomplete donor response to a request to see some specific project budgets sheds light on exactly how willing donors are to apply such “best practices” to themselves.

As I described in a previous Aid Watch blog post, I filed a Freedom of Information request with USAID after ten international NGOs working in the Republic of Georgia refused to publish their project budgets. After a painful, 14-month struggle, including failing to respond at all to my first three communications, USAID finally released a set of documents covering project budgets of 19 UN bodies, NGOs and private contractors.

A portion of World Vision project budget provided by USAID

The documents are disappointingly full of blacked-out non-information. The level of disclosure varies drastically from one document to the next. Some budgets are provided in full, while others appear as blacked-out row upon row. In three cases, USAID even withheld the identity of the contractor itself. USAID explained this inconsistency saying that it was legally required to contact each grantee to give it “the opportunity to address how the disclosure of their information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.”

I wondered why USAID is legally bound to follow its grantees’ wishes in deciding which information to withhold. Can the grantees of a US federal agency really compel that agency to keep the total amount disbursed, or even their very identities, secret? Why doesn’t USAID specify full disclosure as a grant condition? I have filed an appeal with USAID to address these questions, and will keep the readers of this blog updated.

Since according to USAID every piece of blacked-out information was withheld on request of the grantee, the budgets provide a fascinating glimpse into aid agencies’ willingness to open their books. If USAID blackouts do NOT correspond to NGO requests, I would be happy to correct the record.

Perhaps surprisingly, the United Nations showed the highest consistent commitment to transparency. The budgets of the two UN agencies funded by USAID are both reproduced in full.

UMCOR, Mercy Corps, and AIHA emerge as the most transparent NGOs. These charities apparently felt that they had nothing to hide, and did not request USAID to black out any of the information contained in their budgets.

In contrast, Save the Children apparently asked USAID to withhold all information related to salaries. As even the aggregate subtotals for international and national staff have been blacked out, concerns about the privacy of individual staff members cannot have been the sole concern driving the organization’s response. Still, the fact that all non-salary related budget lines remain visible put Save the Children in the middle ground in terms of NGO transparency.

CARE’s response is harder to interpret as USAID inexplicably sent only an aggregated “summary budget” that leaves little to conceal. What information exists shows that CARE did not object to the release of unit prices for supplementary food items, or of aggregated staff and operational support costs. In contrast, CARE appears to regard its “indirect cost rate” and “cost share” as confidential. To hide this information, USAID also had to black out the budget’s bottom line, thus leaving unclear how many taxpayer dollars were handed over in total.

Portion of CNFA project budget provided by USAID

The least transparent NGOs in this test are CNFA, World Vision, and Counterpart International. They apparently requested that USAID black out all information in their budgets except for the grand total. Apparently, these NGOs consider budget items such as “office furniture” (CNFA), “visibility items (t-shirts, caps, publications)” (World Vision) and “forklift expenses” (Counterpart) as confidential information whose release could cause them substantial competitive harm.

What does this transparency test tell us? First, USAID’s mechanism for responding to Freedom of Information requests desperately needs an overhaul. It took USAID 14 months to respond to a simple information request. Ironically, in terms of FOIA responsiveness, USAID is less transparent than public institutions in the Republic of Georgia, as recently assessed by a local watchdog organization. And we are still waiting to hear why USAID allows its own contractors to operate in secrecy whenever they wish. All of this places USAID in an awkward position as it recommends greater transparency and accountability to Georgia.

Second, NGOs have publicly committed themselves to transparency and accountability, but their actions show that their interpretations of what this entails in practice differ widely. For example, World Vision is a full member of theHumanitarian Accountability Partnership, but still asked USAID to hide all of its budget information apart from the bottom line. The Georgian country office of Mercy Corps had earlier refused to release its project budgets, but its headquarters apparently has no such reservations. Save the Children is willing to release indirect cost rates but refuses to divulge even aggregate salary information, while CARE appears more relaxed regarding human resource expenses even as it fiercely guards information on its indirect costs rates. Both USAID and the NGOs have too often violated the elementary principles of transparency.

Why Does UNDP Continue to Aid Repressive Regimes?

Brett SchaeferAUTHOR:Brett Schaefer

A recent story by Fox News provides yet another example of the United Nations Development Program’s refusal to accede to an unfortunate reality: that the organization’s efforts to work with, and through, the world’s most despotic regimes are regularly twisted to serve the goals of the regime rather than the people suffering under their rule. According to the story:

An independent assessment of a $100 million United Nations Development Program aid effort in Burma calls it ‘disappointing,’ and ‘unsatisfactory,’ and suggests that major portions of the program be discontinued next year. Nonetheless, the director of UNDP intends to keep it alive with as-yet unspecified fixes.

The assessment of the UNDP’s Human Development Initiative suggested there were ‘modest or only limited differences’ between the Burmese villages that got UNDP support and those that didn’t.

Among the areas of negligible impact: health care, education and ‘food security,’ meaning the vital business of whether the poorest were producing and saving enough food to eat in the military-controlled country also known as Myanmar….

Even while admitting that Burma is a ‘difficult and unpredictable’ environment for HDI, however, the assessors state firmly that UNDP’s own problems with community development programs are the most significant. Among them: lack of clear focus; inability to show that it has accomplished much beyond the delivery of tangible goods, such as fertilizer; lack of staff training; and perhaps most importantly of all, lack of any clear strategy to wean the people they are helping off continued outside assistance.

Aid to Burma—whose government has been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Obama Administration, is suspected of pursuing a clandestine nuclear program, and has imprisoned opposition politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi 15 out of the last 21 years—has come under increasing scrutiny.

As reported in the FoxNews story, UNDP is under instructions from its Executive Board to ensure that its funds stay out of government hands. However, a 2007 report by a Burmese human rights group asserted that U.N. funding, including UNDP funding, supports state-controlled programs that employ extortion and forced recruitment to “expand military control over the population while divesting itself of the cost of operating programmes and simultaneously legitimizing its policies in the name of development.” In 2008, news storiesrevealed that the “United Nations discovered ‘very serious losses’ of at least $10 million on foreign exchange transactions involving relief money sent to cyclone-battered Burma.”

This is hardly surprising. A number of allegations have been made in recent years concerning improper activities funded by, or linked to, UNDP staff or projects in authoritarian states, including North Korea,Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. In some repressive states, the U.N. and NGOs can work around the government to help the people directly. In these cases, there is some justification for continuing U.N. humanitarian activities. In cases like Burma and North Korea, however, government interference and assertion of authority over humanitarian activities in country is so extensive that humanitarian efforts are crippled. Despite the best efforts of the U.N. and other providers of humanitarian assistance, aid is permitted only if it benefits the regime. In such cases, UNDP programs—and those of other U.N. agencies like WFP and UNICEF—end up inadvertently rewarding the government.

Many argue that the U.N.’s humanitarian work should continue regardless of whether the government benefits because some portion will aid the suffering population. There is little doubt about the suffering in places like North Korean and Burma. However, it is the repressive policies of the government that have most directly contributed to that suffering. Aiding the government, even inadvertently, perpetuates that suffering.

The Fox News story reports that internal assessments have assured the Executive Board that UNDP has not allowed its funds to be used by the government. At the very least, however, considering the “difficult and unpredictable” environment in Burma, UNDP assistance merits closer scrutiny to see if it is inadvertently benefiting the regime.

At August 30 meeting of the UNDP Executive Board—of which the U.S. is a member—the U.S. Mission to the United Nations should closely question all UNDP activities in repressive regimes like Burma, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others countries and demand full and complete access to all UNDP documents and assessments to inform their examination. At a bare minimum, the U.S. should call for all such programs to be suspended unless the governments: (1) allow the U.N. and NGOs to hire and use local and international staff without government interference; (2) grant complete and free access to projects, distribution centers, and aid recipients to ensure that aid is not being diverted by the government; and (3) not impede non-governmental organizations helping to deliver aid and assess need.

Take Your Business Frustrations Out For A Good Cause

For businesses that are frustrated with the economy and think they can't afford to give to a good cause, there is always a way to turn those frustrations into a positive thing. In Provo, Utah, small businesses donated $5.00 to the local Boys and Girls Club in exchange for a sledge hammer and an opportunity to beat up an old car.

I love these creative ideas where non-profits and small businesses can collaborate on fundraising to help enrich and empower lives. It should come with a disclaimer: amateurs should not try this at home, only for serious business philanthropists.

Video Courtesy of

UNDP's Assistant to Palestinians Beat Rohr Lists Ph.D from Diploma Mill, Helen Clark Through Spokesman Dodges Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- To head UNDP's Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People, UNDP's Administrator Helen Clark recently named Mr. Beat Rohr of Switzerland, listing in her announcement his qualification that “Beat has.. a Ph.D in Management from the Pacific Western University in Los Angeles.”

There is a problem: a simple Internet search shows that Pacific Western University in Los Angeles is a discredited diploma mill that changed its name to try to put the scandal behind it.

"Pacific Western University, prior to an ownership change, changing its name and becoming accredited, was the subject of criticism concerning its unaccredited nature and quality of its programs. In May 2004 the USGovernment Accountability Office presented the results of an eight-month examination titled "Diploma Mills: Federal Employees Have Obtained Degrees from Diploma Mills and Other Unaccredited Schools, Some at Government Expense" to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs"

Inner City Press on August 25 asked UNDP spokesman Stephane Dujarric

please confirm that this Ph.D [is] from the then- Brentwood-based (and since re-name, after scandal);

please provide UNDP's and Ms. Clark's comment on the information in the above link, that the institution was an unaccredited diploma mill; and

What due diligence does UNDP do, and did it do in this case?”

Dujarric asked for a day to produce an answer, and Inner City Press agreed and held off publication. But then Dujarric responded to the specific questions above with this statement:

Subject: Press questions re Beat Rohr and Pacific Western University, on deadline, thanks in advance
From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Date: Thu, Aug 26, 2010

Matthew, Below is my answer to your question. Please print in full.

Beat Rohr’s academic credentials and years of professional service with UNDP and other organizations including UNHCR and CARE go above and beyond the requirements for the post of head of UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.”

Before publishing this non-responsive answer, Inner City Press asked again, adding “what do you say about the public reports about that university? What does Beat Rohr say? On what basis did he list this university, and what weight did UNDP give it?”

If and when UNDP, the UN, Ms. Clark or Mr. Rohr provide answers, they will be published.

Helen Clark & UN's Ban, PAPP & Beat Rohr' discredited Ph.D not shown

For now, the public record shows that Ms. Clark's Special Representative to the Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People is listing a Ph.D from

Pacific Western University, prior to an ownership change, changing its name and becoming accredited, was the subject of criticism concerning its unaccredited nature and quality of its programs.

In May 2004 the US Government Accountability Office presented the results of an eight-month examination titled "Diploma Mills: Federal Employees Have Obtained Degrees from Diploma Mills and Other Unaccredited Schools, Some at Government Expense" to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.[10] According to the report the investigation was conducted to determine whether the federal government had paid for, or governmental officials possessed, degrees from unaccredited schools. After the passage of the Homeland Security Act, Section 4107 of tile 5, U.S. Code was amended. After this act became law in 2002, the federal government could pay for the cost of academic degree training for federal employees only if the college or university providing that training was accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body. As the basis of the report, the GAO searched the Internet for nontraditional, unaccredited post-secondary schools that offered degrees that met their search criteria. Pacific Western University in Los Angeles was one of the unaccredited schools on which the GAO found online and mentioned in the report. Of these schools mentioned in the report, California Coast University and Pacific Western University - California, were California State Approved institutions[11][12] at the time this report was presented. Although unaccredited at the time, both of these Universities have gone on to gain national accreditation[13] since the report was originally submitted.

Later that year, investigative reporters from television station KVOA ofTucson, Arizona, stated that PWU was one of seven schools identified as diploma mills by the GAO report.[14][15] The station reported that Pima Community College in Tucson had reduced the salaries of two faculty members who previously had been paid at the Ph.D level based on their degrees from PWU.[14] In a subsequent clarification of the original articleKVOA reported that one of the two professors contacted the station and disagreed that PWU was a diploma mill. The professor did not feel misled by Pacific Western, as the station reported, because the professor said it was approved by the California Department of Education to be an educational institution and to award degrees.[15]

Internationally, the media responded similarly to Pacific Western University and the GAO Report.[10][16][17] It was reported in the Irish Independent on 9 October 2005 that the Chief Science Advisor to the government ofIreland, Barry McSweeney, had been found to have advanced his career using a degree obtained from Pacific Western University.[18][19] The newspaper report stated that McSweeney had obtained his Ph.D. inbiotechnology and biochemistry from PWU in 1994 after just 12 months of study. The article went on to say "There is no question that Mr McSweeney has anything other than a distinguished track record in business. He has a degree in biochemistry from UCC and a Masters degree in clinical biochemistry from TCD. He was also in charge of the Marie Curie Fellowships, an EU-wide programme which has been credited with helping more than 35,000 scientists develop their careers. Mr McSweeney has been widely praised for his role in expanding this programme." It further described PWU as having "no merit or standing in the academic world" and having been "the subject of numerous official investigations, state bans and media exposés" during its 28 years of operation.[18] McSweeney was forced to resign his position as a result although the article stated that McSweeney had made no attempt to conceal the details of his education and that he was "proud" of his doctorate and "stood over it" and that he considered PWU California to be a "respected" and recognized body." Mr McSweeny's spokesperson went on to add: "Barry stands over his doctorate.....He has a degree from UCC, significant life experience, and was the director-general of the Joint Research Institute. I can't believe you're writing this." [20] In Australia, a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland was banned from using the title of "Doctor" after it was discovered that his Ph.D. had been obtained from Pacific Western University.

And UNDP? Watch this site.

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On Congo Rapes, DPKO Faces Council Questions, New Element

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- On the Congo rape scandal, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations faced a rare barrage of questions from some Security Council members on Thursday morning. Inner City Press is told that DPKO has been asked for a copy of the July 30 e-mail noting the incursion of rebels into the area the 154 rapes would take place, and telling humanitarian workers to stay away.

The forthcoming Council press statement, the initial four elements of which Inner City Press exclusively published before the meeting, is being expanded with a fifth paragraph. Ambassador Susan Rice, it is said, will speak to the Press after the meeting and the Statement, to be read by Russia's Vitaly Churkin, the Council president for August.

Other members concerned with protection of civilians include Mexico, whose Permanent Representative Claude Heller said, even in this week's Council meeting on piracy, that “Mexico condemns and rejects these acts of sexual violence which cannot remain unpunished and deserve a categorical condemnation from the international community,” and “the Security Council should address in the appropriate time this serious issue.”

So if this is not the appropriate time, when is? Watch this site.