UN asks for cash as roof starts letting in water

Click to follow
The Independent US

The cash-strapped United Nations is going cap in hand to its members again. This time it is looking for $1bn (£660m) to plug the holes in its headquarters and upgrade the 1950s landmark to modern standards.

The cash-strapped United Nations is going cap in hand to its members again. This time it is looking for $1bn (£660m) to plug the holes in its headquarters and upgrade the 1950s landmark to modern standards.

The roof of the New York skyscraper that holds the UN General Assembly is leaking. Another problem is that the walls of the secretariat tower are lined with asbestos. Joseph Connor, senior financial officer, said: "Look at the ceilings. There are no sprinklers. And, by the way, behind it is asbestos." He has told representatives of the 188-nation body that it was time to consider wholesale refurbishment.

He said that if the UN continued without such a plan, costed at $964m, $1.64bn would have to be spent on piecemeal repairs. The amount proposed in the master plan is less than the $1.6bn owed by the United States to the UN.

Mr Connor said everybody agreed that an overhaul was necessary but that there were questions over who would pay for it. It was suggested in some quarters that big business might like to donate the funds, in a departure from usual practice. Mr Connor acknowledged that no country had yet volunteered to pay its share. In 1948 the US Congress approved an interest-free loan of $65m for the building of the UN headquarters after the Rockefeller family donated the land. The loan was repaid over 31 years.

Mr Connor has proposedinterest-free loans and bonds to pay for the six-year renovation of the building.

The proposed facelift would involve construction of an additional 10 storeys on top of the glass matchbox-like tower and two new structures next to the existing complex. A third of the 4,600 staff would be relocated temporarily.

Comments