Peter’s Friends


Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 01.58.19Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 01.39.41

Hundreds of thousands of lifejackets in a makeshift dump outside Eftalou, northern Lesbos in early December; and former chair of Goldman Sachs International and UN Special Representative for Migration, Peter Sutherland

Just before Christmas, Ireland’s former Attorney General and the current United Nations Special Representative for International Migration Peter Sutherland criticised the European Union for its response to the refugees and migrant crisis

During a speech, entitled ‘Migration – The Global Challenge Of Our Times’, at the Michael Littleton Memorial Lecture at the RTÉ Radio Centre on December 17, Mr Sutherland, said: “Ruinously selfish behaviour by some member states has brought the EU to its knees.”

In addition, the Irish Times reported:

‘On the way forward, Mr Sutherland said EU member states would be wise to take a “bold step” towards a single European border agency and, eventually, a single European asylum agency. Europe had to properly fund organisations such as the [UN’s] World Food Programme, which was feeding refugees in sprawling camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. He said it was immoral that the only pathway Europe offered to desperate refugees to access protection was to cross the perilous Mediterranean at great cost and risk of death.’


There are 2.2 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey – 250,000 to 350,000 of whom are living in Government-run refugee camps, with the remaining Syrian refugees living in Turkey left to fend for themselves without access to legal employment.

In 2014, Amnesty International reported:

“According to Turkish government sources, only 15 per cent of Syrian refugees outside official camps receive assistance from humanitarian agencies and organisations. The need to provide basic food and shelter means that families resort to desperate measures to try and make ends meet – even putting their children to work.”

There are also approximately 230,000 asylum-seekers from other countries in Turkey while Lebanon and Jordan are hosting 1.1 million and 633,000 Syrian refugees respectively.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) – referred to by Mr Sutherland in his speech – is described as the ‘food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security’.

In September of last year, the Guardian reported that the UN’s humanitarian agencies were “on the verge of bankruptcy and unable to meet the basic needs of millions of people because of the size of the refugee crisis in the Middle East, Africa and Europe”.

It reported:

The deteriorating conditions in Lebanon and Jordan, particularly the lack of food and healthcare, have become intolerable for many of the 4 million people who have fled Syria, driving fresh waves of refugees north-west towards Europe and aggravating the current crisis.”

“This year the World Food Programme cut rations to 1.6 million Syrian refugees. The most vulnerable living in Lebanon now only have $13 to spend on food each month, a figure that the WFP warned would leave refugees vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. “

In the same Guardian article, it was reported that the UN only received $0.9 billion of the $2.89 billion it requested for its Syria Regional Response Plan.

It explained:

“The majority of the UN’s humanitarian work is funded entirely by voluntary donations from individual governments and private donors, with agencies such as the UNHCR and Unicef receiving none of the regular budget that member states pay into the UN’s central coffers.”

[UN high commissioner for refugees, António] Guterres is leading calls from within the UN to change this system and ask member states to make more regular payments to the main agencies.”

More recently in a TED talk, Mr Guterres said the sharp increase in refugees arriving in Europe in 2015 was largely prompted by the dire conditions facing refugees – particularly in Lebanon and Jordan – which were, in turn, largely due to lack of UN funding.

He said:

“The living conditions of the Syrians in the neighboring countries have been deteriorating. We just had research with the World Bank, and 87 percent of the Syrians in Jordan and 93 percent of the Syrians in Lebanon live below the national poverty lines. Only half of the children go to school, which means that people are living very badly. Not only are they refugees, out of home, not only have they suffered what they have suffered, but they are living in very, very dramatic conditions.”

“And then the trigger was when all of a sudden, international aid decreased. The [UN] World Food Programme was forced, for lack of resources, to cut by 30 percent food support to the Syrian refugees. They’re not allowed to work, so they are totally dependent on international support, and they felt, “The world is abandoning us.” And that, in my opinion, was the trigger. All of a sudden, there was a rush, and people started to move in large numbers and, to be absolutely honest, if I had been in the same situation and I would have been brave enough to do it, I think I would have done the same.”

Such cuts in funding could explain the following.

Between January 1, 2015 and November 14, 2015, an estimated 387,340 people had arrived on Lesbos via rubber dinghies – with the vast majority of these people arriving on the north of the island and spending a night there, in ill-equipped transit camps, until travelling down to Mytilene in the south for registration the following day.

Since November 29 – when the €3billion EU/Turkey deal was struck – the majority of boats arriving on Lesbos have been arriving on the south of the island.

When people arrive off boats they are generally soaked, very cold and their few possessions are either also soaked, and therefore abandoned, or were lost at sea. Some arrivals say they haven’t eaten for days.

According to figures obtained from the UNHCR, as of November 13, 2015 – when there were four “roving” UNHCR staff working in northern Lesbos – the UNHCR had provided the following by way of food, blankets and clothes in the area:

50,400 high-energy or sesame bars. These included 19,600 high-energy bars in Skala Sikaminias; 12,300 high-energy bars and 3,600 sesame bars in Molyvos; and 14,900 high-energy bars in Mantamados. They were distributed via their partner groups Starfish, MsF, Eurorelief, Samaritan’s Purse and the International Rescue Committee.

16,390 blankets. These included the distribution of 2,810 blankets in Mantamados, 3,605 in Skala Sikaminias and 9,975 in Molyvos.

1,913 raincoats. These were distributed in Molyvos.

The UNHCR spokeswoman said:

“UNHCR has significantly ramped up its presence in Lesvos and UNHCR staffing is being increased. Thirteen additional staff have been deployed, many speaking the language of the refugees, and bringing the total staff on Lesvos to 30. As you are aware, the situation is very challenging in all areas. At the North, new arrivals neither stay nor get registered by the Greek authorities. Thus, it is important for us to also focus in providing them protection and assistance the accommodation/registration sites near Mytilene, where people stay for a longer time than in the north.”

“UNHCR staff engage in a range of activities. Among others, they provide information to the new arrivals as regards the situation on the island, the processes that they have to go through, their rights and responsibilities…”

Alessandra Morelli, regional operations chief for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, recently spoke of her appreciation of the efforts of volunteers on the island of Lesbos, telling the Wall Street Journal: “Everyone recognises [the volunteer efforts]. But “now it’s time to bring professionals.”

Further to this.

In an open letter to the former chairman of Goldman Sachs International, Mr Sutherland – that has been circulating on social media and Reddit in recent days – a man called Patrick Holland writes:

“This refugee problem was brought about by the so called policy of ‘regime change’ favoured by some members of the US government and their lobbyists and the military-industrial business people, banking and big oil interests, including the neo conservatives…”

“Massive amounts of money are being made from these wars, supplying all sides of the conflict. Many newspapers report increased revenues and profits for military industrial interests and large banking interests which are involved in these conflicts in the Middle East. Several of these neo conservatives, lobbyists and military-industrial business people, banking and oil interests, are personal friends of yours, Mr Sutherland, you have met them in Bilderberg meetings, Trilateral Commission meetings, European Roundtable meetings, Goldman Sachs meetings, BP meetings, and WTO meetings.”

“You should get these people to stop their wars, stop their game playing in the Middle East. Use your influence, your power, your position, the press and media, your political connections, and your Goldman Sachs, Bilderberg and Trilateral connections to do this. This would help end the refugee problem…”

Selfishness on refugees has brought EU ‘to its knees’ (Irish Times)

Related: The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?Charlie Skelton (The Guardian, July 12, 2012)

Previously: In Their Backyard

Sam Boal/

45 thoughts on “Peter’s Friends

  1. mmm

    Roll up. Roll up. Am taking bets that this is a Mercille thread. Evidence : A talent for “copy and paste” and such worthy observations as:”When people arrive off boats they are generally soaked, very cold and their few possessions are either also soaked, and therefore abandoned, or were lost at sea”.

    1. Twunt

      If Peter Sutherland said it then it must be the truth, be in our best interest, and not that of his Vampire Squid overloards

      1. Neilo

        @Twunt: there’s no need to hide behind Matt Taibbi’s euphemism – feel free to identify the people you think are Sutherland’s overlords. Rhymes with clues, blue and ah-choos and is tangential to this story.

  2. ollie

    Irish Times shows it’s true colours yet again. Sutherland is concerned that that lack of action on the refugee crisis will lead to the rise in extremist politics. He doesn’t give a s h I t about the hardship these people have been through.
    Rather then accepting refugees he wants them kept out, unless it suits Europe to let them in (for example to drive down salaries)

    Geraldine Kennedy wrote an election article in the Times on Saturday which contained the following quotes:
    “It is going to be a challenging – indeed, a difficult and different general election – for The Irish Times to cover in a fair, balanced, proportionate and independent way ..”
    and later in the article-
    “The key issue now, the most relevant going into the 2016 general election, is that there is no alternative taoiseach for the first time. You have Enda Kenny or chaos –”

    Once a blueshirt publication always a blueshirt publication.

  3. Owen C

    I’m not entirely sure what the summary point of this post is? Has Broadsheet become anti-refugee? Would genuinely like to know.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      The post is called Peter’s Friends and makes reference to a letter which accuses Peter Sutherland of being friends with people who profit from war. It’s not that hard to work out.

      1. Owen C

        So the article had very little to do with finding workable (note) solutions for the refugee crisis (ie what was discussed in the first 80% of the post), and was really just about not liking Sutherland’s background and his friends’ alleged involvement with the refugee crisis? Why mention all the details on the UN’s current refugee response (blankets, energy bars, no of reps in Lesbos etc)? All just a bit of cloak and dagger before getting to the final rant?

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          No, this Broadsheet post was not able to solve a problem that national governments haven’t been able to solve in 40 years. FFS.

          1. Owen C

            The current refugee crisis has been ongoing for 40 years? Time flies and all that. Crackpots be crackpotting i suppose…

          2. Mike

            don’t worry pip. the answer to this little conundrum will surely pop up in the comment threads here, or over in the or some othee irish news website soon

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            Actually, what am I talking about? You’re right. This current refugee crisis is the first bad thing that’s ever happened in the Middle East.

          4. Owen C

            I’m referring to the refugee crisis element of it. Which was what Peter Sutherland was referring to. You and Patrick Holland decided to make it into a more general Middle East issue. Of course there are long term intractable issues there, but they are not going to be solved in any time frame which assists the current wave of refugees. So, like i said, if this post was supposed to be about the long term Middle East problem, why spend so long going into minute detail about the current UN crisis response? Unless that was all cloak and dagger for the bigger conspiracy-style rant?

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I’m referring to the refugee crisis element of it.”

            Uh huh, a refugee crisis which is a direct result of a power vacuum which itself is a direct result of a Western invasion to overthrow a previously western backed dictator of a country arbitrarily invented by the West.

            “Unless that was all cloak and dagger for the bigger conspiracy-style rant?”

            Yep. It was just a rant aimed at unfairly attacking people you like. That’s what everything you don’t like is.

          6. Owen C

            Finally you get there. You’re slow off the mark, but u keep on going. Ur like a blunt headed little tortoise. Its the Bilderberg wot done it.

          1. Owen C

            Ok – serious question: if the real ‘issue’ was Peter Sutherland’s background and friends, and how this interacts with the alleged long term causes of the middle east problems, why go on in such great detail about the current UN crisis response before getting to the real point? As i said, its all a sneaky subterfuge so that a post didn’t seem dominated by a conspiracy-laden Bilderberg and Trialateral Commission rant.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            I’ve mentioned this to you before, just because you have problems comprehending essays, it doesn’t mean anything untoward is going on. The start of the post refers to Sutherland complaining that the EU’s response to the migrant crisis has exacerbated the problem and the letter at the end talks about how Sutherland has direct influence with people who profit from the conditions which created the crisis. Seriously lad, you’re just a shrieking shill.

          3. Owen C

            So how does this work, if you call people stupid enough times, you start to feel better about yourself? I can comprehend the essay just fine. I can understand the issues just fine. I happen to disagree with you on the real point of post. Just because you shout louder on here and with a higher pitch than everyone else and because you have a super-hilarious name doesn’t make you funny or clever. It just makes you the high pitched shouter in the corner with the strange name who doesn’t play well with the other kids. Go take a breath of fresh air and have a walk around the block and remember you’re not nearly as interesting as you think you are. You are of below average interest, at best.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I can comprehend the essay just fine.”

            You literally said you don’t understand the point of it. Clearly you don’t comprehend it.

            “Just because you shout louder on here and with a higher pitch than everyone else and because you have a super-hilarious name doesn’t make you funny or clever.”

            Buddy, I’m just a faceless name on your computer screen and look at your hysterical reaction. You’ve got some pretty severe emotional issues, lad.

          5. Owen C

            Yes, the hysterical nature of my post was obvious for all to see. But lets say there are incoherently stupid people out there who couldn’t actually tell where the hysterical part of the post was, could you point it out to them? As i said, you’re super-dooper at throwing out childish insults, but you are not particularly good at engaging in a debate. Try harder.

        2. rotide

          You’re absolutely right btw Owen.

          This post doesn’t make any sense at all.

          It all becomes easier when you stop thinking of broadsheet as a newspaper or publication and see it as just another blog. Which it is, with extra cats.

          1. Anne

            You haven’t decided to stop being a twirp for the new year I see Rosey.
            Oh well, there’s always next year.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            Actually the post makes perfect sense. It talks about how Peter Sutherland is complaining enough isn’t being done about migrants despite the fact he is personal friends with people who can do more. It’s not like anyone needed to be told but we can see from this post that the source of your and Owen’s ire about things like this is that you are simply not smart enough to understand what is going on.

          3. Anne

            I’ve seen him on here for a few years now criticising the likes of the cat posts. Then anything a bit more complicated and not a peep out of him. I used to leave comments on those more serious threads for the likes of him, asking where was he. He probably never even clicked on them.

            Just fupp off Rotsey would you, you’re annoying.

          4. rotide

            Clarification : I like the cat posts.

            Further to your point Moyest. No, It doesn’t make sense. It’s a meandering vomit of re-published words with no editorial to make its point. Also, the unattributed letter from “A Guy From R eddit” (note that just naming that website is still censored in the comments ) is hardly the stuff of pulitzers.

            What’s ironic is that much of the thrust of the previously mentioned AFGR letter involves some conspiracy mumbo jumbo as well as this gem:
            Isis has boasted that it has sent thousands of warriors disguised as refugees into Europe. Now, Mr. Sutherland, wouldn’t you lose all credibility and look ridiculous if this threat turns out to be true and you let in these Isis fighters to terrorise Europe. Would you be willing to take responsibility and face charges for this ?

            So the rock that BS are using to beat Sutherland with is a rock that is pretty anatheama to their belief system.

            I see that your debating style hasn’t risen above ad hominium attacks and boobs yet Anne. Keep trying.

          5. Anne

            “It doesn’t make sense. It’s a meandering vomit of re-published words with no editorial to make its point”

            Do you want an editorial done on the transcribed pieces too, to explain the points to you? You gotta make you up own mind Rotsey.

            Seriously, it’s not their fault you’re a bit simple.

  4. Eoin

    Everything this Goldman Sachs scumbag says is agenda driven. And it’s an agenda which will not be benefiting the anyone apart from handful of mega rich. If this guy really gave a damn about middle eastern refugees he’d be campaigning to end the illegal western wars over there and he’d be calling for investigations into who’s supporting ISIS.

  5. Saint Paul

    Saint Paul thinks rotide is frequently the only poster on this thing with even a modicum of common sense at times and this makes Saint Paul feel all kind of funny and uncomfortable like when he was a wee lad lying in bed at night and ..

  6. Truth in the News

    Mr Sutherland could get all this rich friends including himself to accomodate
    and look after all these displaced people, whose current predicament is due
    to the policies of the cirlce of movers and shakers he belongs too.
    Indeed how many pensions is he on…..? is he also a financial adviser to the

Comments are closed.