So much for the UN’s help,
Today a UN diplomat told me the appalling truth about the UN Observation Mission in Syria. The facts are based on direct information from observers on the ground. It is clear that, while some observers are doing a great job risking their life and even pay missions on their own expenses, most of the official UN observers are doing as good as nothing at all, as they are underpaid, too scared and too few.
The 300 UN observers are in reality with 270. They were quickly picked from several UN institutions and departments. A great lot of them do not speak English and only a few speak Arabic, which makes communication with the local people as good as impossible. As they were picked very quickly, almost none of the observers have any knowledge about Syria at all. They are not trained and have no experience whatsoever with the situation there brought in. That’s why most of them are terribly scared.
The daily allowance the observers receive is ridiculously low, being 230 dollars. One room in the safe Damascene hotel they all stay in costs 150 dollars a day. The problem is that with the other 80 dollars, they not only have to eat but pay for what they need to do their job. This is of course far from sufficient. If they want to do a mission to one of the Syrian cities, they have to pay the expenses. That is why only hundred of the 270 observers are actually doing observation missions, paying the expenses out of their own pocket. The other 170 just stay in the hotel, probably reading their newspaper, go for a swim or at best take a little walk in the neighbourhood. From these hundred active observers, only very few go to ‘far away places’ as it is too expensive.