ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Blessed are the peacemakers? Not in the UN’s nastier corners

The Whistleblowers: Inside The UN

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Blocco 181 

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There’s an old story in the newspaper world about a reporter who warns a younger colleague: ‘Never work for a liberal paper — they always sack you at Christmas.’

The underlying message is that people who believe themselves to be righteous often behave in an appalling manner. The more righteous they are, the more badly they behave.

As Exhibit A, m’lud, may I present The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN (BBC2) which set out a catalogue of wrongdoing, negligence and cover-up at the United Nations.

The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN (BBC2) set out a catalogue of wrongdoing, negligence and cover-up at the United Nations

The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN (BBC2) set out a catalogue of wrongdoing, negligence and cover-up at the United Nations

As one former official put it: ‘Doing good work is a fantastic cloak for abuse. People think you’re a good person and can’t believe you’d do those bad things.’

She was talking about sexual abuse, which some men seem to regard as a perk of the job.

Two whistleblowing women accused a senior figure of attacking them in lifts. Another senior figure was accused of pawing his secretary as she typed up his speeches on gender equality. Oh, the irony.

A bar at UN headquarters is known as ‘The Meat Market’, it was claimed, because it’s where senior male officials try their luck with young, ambitious women.

RONALD WHITE: 'Two whistleblowing women accused a senior figure of attacking them in lifts. Another senior figure was accused of pawing his secretary as she typed up his speeches on gender equality. Oh, the irony'

RONALD WHITE: ‘Two whistleblowing women accused a senior figure of attacking them in lifts. Another senior figure was accused of pawing his secretary as she typed up his speeches on gender equality. Oh, the irony’

The accusations were relentless. It was claimed that UN soldiers were responsible for rapes in Haiti and the Central African Republic, often in exchange for food.

It was claimed that $7.8 million (£6.6 million) was ‘misappropriated’ in Russia, and an official lost his job after raising concerns about corruption in Kosovo.

Perhaps worst of all, 10,000 people died from cholera in Haiti after a sewage leak from a UN barracks. At least Haiti got an apology from the UN Secretary General. No compensation, though.

Any other organisation would be in crisis after a programme of this kind, but not the United Nations.

The UN denies pretty much all of the accusations, and has actually taken some action: two officials who took part in the programme have since lost their jobs.

ROLAND WHITE: 'Blocco 181  was basically Romeo And Juliet, but with more sex, more drugs and more tattoos - and you probably wouldn't see quite so many baseball bat attacks from members of the Royal Shakespeare Company'

ROLAND WHITE: ‘Blocco 181  was basically Romeo And Juliet, but with more sex, more drugs and more tattoos – and you probably wouldn’t see quite so many baseball bat attacks from members of the Royal Shakespeare Company’

Blocco 181 (Sky Atlantic) was basically Romeo And Juliet, but with more sex, more drugs and more tattoos.

And you probably wouldn’t see quite so many baseball bat attacks from members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The series, in Italian with English subtitles, is set on a rundown housing estate in Milan, where there are tensions between rival South American and Italian gangs.

It opened with some South Americans delivering a violent kicking to a young man cowering on the ground. As it turned out, this was a friendly welcome to the Misa gang.

Blocco 181 is set on a rundown housing estate in Milan, where there are tensions between rival South American and Italian gangs

Blocco 181 is set on a rundown housing estate in Milan, where there are tensions between rival South American and Italian gangs

Caught in the middle of all this is beautiful South American Bea, who meets wealthy posh Italian Ludo at a nightclub and goes back to his flat. 

Ludo delivers drugs for the Italian Signor Big. He is also friends with Mahdi, whose uncle runs the estate’s Italian gang from his secondhand car lot — a sort of Arturo Daley.

A British version of this would be relentlessly grim, but you can point a camera anywhere in Italy and the result will somehow look glossy and glamorous — even a rundown inner city estate.

In the final moments, someone from the estate stole Ludo’s moped, along with a consignment of drugs. Bea, who’d had a row with Ludo, suddenly saw an opportunity. This will not end well. 

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS is away.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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