Published: 12:29, April 2, 2024 | Updated: 16:57, April 2, 2024
April Fools' prank: UN spokesman has reporters' heads spinning
By Xinhua

In this file photo dated Aug 26, 2020, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaks during a daily news briefing at the UN headquarters in New York. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS - The chief UN spokesman on Monday announced a head-spinning, convoluted operating schedule for various UN Headquarters' escalators - in an April Fools' prank.

In a routine manner at a daily press briefing, Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, announced reduced escalator services starting next week due to "budget issues".

"The escalators in the conference building that operate between the basement and the first floor and the second and third floor will function only on alternate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays," he said. "Those between the first floor and the second floor and those operating between the third and fourth floors will function on alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays because we don't have enough crews."

To make matters worse for correspondents in the briefing trying to make sense of the schedule, Dujarric added that escalators in the General Assembly building reserved just for delegates would function every day except when the Fifth Committee, which handles budgetary affairs, meets.

Because of budget trimming, the service cutbacks seemed almost plausible, while the schedule seemed impossible.

This file photo dated Oct 14, 2019 shows the United Nations headquarters in New York. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The prank obviously worked as a correspondent quickly asked for a written notice of the new schedule. Dujarric replied: "Yeah. And it is April Fools'."

Some reporters frequently complained recently when the escalator between the second and third floors was out of order. Journalists are on the third and fourth floors, and the Security Council press area for interviewing ambassadors is on the second floor.

Also, because of liquidity problems, the temperature in the UN Secretariat building has been unusually low, prompting the spokesman to give the briefings in a sweater, insulated vest or even a large scarf.

Dujarric announced at the briefing that three more countries, Guatemala, the Marshall Islands and South Africa, have paid their dues to the 2024 regular budget, bringing the number of paid-in-full countries to 96, among the 193 member states of the United Nations.