Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ros-Lehtinen Condemns UNDP Retaliation Against Whistleblower


House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, May 14, 2008
Alex Cruz, (202) 225-8200


Ros-Lehtinen Condemns UNDP Retaliation Against Whistleblower

Agency reportedly fired employee after he exposed ties to militant group

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) today expressed "deep disappointment" over reports that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has taken retaliatory action against an employee who alerted authorities to the agency's support of a company with links to Islamist militants in Somalia.

According to reports, UNDP employee Ismail Ahmed was threatened and fired after he exposed the agency's cooperation with a company that has suspected links to the extremist faction al-Ittihad al-Islamiya. The UN agency came under criticism earlier this year for similar action taken against Artjon Shkurtaj, a UNDP contractor who was fired after he reported that UNDP mismanagement in North Korea may have allowed U.S. funds to be directed toward to the regime's weapons program.

"The report that UNDP has once again taken action against an employee who blew the whistle on malfeasance is deeply disappointing and reveals the depth of immutable corruption at UNDP," said Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The charge that a UN agency has been working with known Islamist extremists comes on the heels of a report earlier this month that the UN Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) employed a leading rocket-maker of Islamic Jihad in Gaza. On Wednesday, Ros-Lehtinen requested that U.S. contributions to UNRWA, which are voluntary, be zeroed-out of the 2009 budget.

"This report documents the second time in a month that we have learned of UN agencies working with violent Islamists," said Ros-Lehtinen. "While the United States pours resources into the fight against Islamist extremism, multiple UN agencies aid and abet the very militants we are battling. If abiding by basic standards of conduct is beyond the reach of these agencies, the United States will see no alternative but to stop patronizing these organizations altogether. As the largest donor to the UN, the U.S.must demand that the United Nations properly use the hard-earned money of American taxpayers," she added.

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