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UN Delegates Live Large in NY While Their People Starve

As diplomats congregate for the United Nations General Assembly, delegations from some of the poorest countries in the world are spending extravagantly in New York City while their homelands struggle, NBC 4 New York’s I-Team has discovered.

“The lavish spending is just endemic of autocratic politics as a whole,” said Alastair Smith, a politics professor from New York University and co-author of “The Diplomat’s Handbook.”

He believes the U.N.’s Manhattan address has become a distraction from the intended work of the General Assembly.

“They are here for the shopping, the food the wine, the dining. If it was in a less attractive place, I’m sure fewer people would want to come as hangers-on,” said Smith.

On Monday, I-Team cameras found several visitors with the U.N. delegation from Swaziland walking out of high-end retailer Bergdorf Goodman. The women had Bergdorf Goodman shopping bags, though they said the items inside were just gifts.

According to U.N. data, nearly 70 percent of Swazi people survive on less than $2 a day. The nation has one of the highest AIDS rates: 18 percent of the population is HIV positive.

Despite those struggles back home, numerous members of the Swaziland U.N. entourage are staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the I-Team has learned, where suites go for between $8,000 and $18,000 a night.

Also staying at the Mandarin Oriental were members of the delegation from Togo. According to one U.N. report, 2.4 million Togolese citizens live on less than $1.25 a day.


4 Responses

  1. Does this include UN representatives of the medinah who live high on the hog while people all over the medinah hardly have enough to pay rent and food?

  2. 1. If they live well at home, why should they act like paupers when in New York. It isn’t like most countries pick poor people to be ambassadors. If someone is a rich aristocrat at home, he’ll probably be one here too. No hiddush.

    2. It’s questionable if anyone is starving. Famines today are largely the result of war or stupid government policies, and Swaziland isn’t that bad off (nor it Togo). The small amount “per day” doesn’t include food grown by the person (in a country where most people are farmers), and doesn’t reflect “off the books” income, which is quite common.

    3. Some countries are a bit frugal. One hire a graduate student to be their ambassador. He worked out of his dorm . Helped pay for his education.

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