Friday, July 31, 2009

At UN, Biting Incident Reveals Nepotism of UNDP and Congo Envoy, Whistleblower Maced

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- The biting incident at the UN, on which Inner City Press exclusively reported one week ago, has its roots in a glaring case of nepotism in which the UN's top envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Alan Doss, lobbied to get his daughter the UN Development Program job effectively held and applied for by alleged biter, Mr. Nicola Baroncini.

When Mr. Baroncini was suspected of knowing of the nepotism, documented by an e-mail to UNDP from Mr. Doss, he was fired, forcibly removed, with pepper spray, from the UN compound and arrested by NYPD on the basis of false accusations. Doss' daughter Rebecca is now ensconced in the disputed UNDP job, while Mr. Baroncini is due in Criminal Court on August 10 on charges of third degree assault.

The case is an early test of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, in the job for 100 days now, and new UN Security chief Gregory Starr, with whom Mr. Baroncini is asking to meet in order to withdraw the criminal charges against him. Also in question is how Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will react to documented allegations of improper requests and nepotism by his personal envoy to one of the UN's largest and most controversial peacekeeping missions.

Documents filed with the US Department of State, obtained by Inner City Press, show the lead-up to the June 22 pepper spray. On March 16, 2009, after several other UNDP posts ranging from Cambodia to New York, Mr. Baroncini began functioning as assistant to Ms. Ligia Elizondo, Deputy Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP).

According to the complaint Mr. Baroncini was "managing her personal agenda; screening inbound and outbound communications; organizing meetings; reviewing documents and other material; distributing tasks within the bureau. I had unlimited access to her UNDP email account. My tasks also included email filing (in my hard drive)."

A month later in April according to the complaint, Mr. Baroncini "witnessed that Ms. Elizondo received several phone calls from Rebecca Doss. Her CV was permanently in Ms. Elizondo’s in-tray. Also while filing Ms. Elizondo’s UNDP email inbox I came across several emails from Rebecca Doss to Ms. Elizondo. In one, Rebecca made reference to the position of 'Special Assistant to RBAP Deputy Director' and said that she would contact Ms. Elizondo at home."

Subsequently, Mr. Baroncini applied for and was one of four short-listed candidates for this post, whose functions he was already performing. Other candidates included Violeta Maximova and Rebecca Doss, whose father Alan Doss, in charge of the UN's billion dollar peacekeeping mission in the Congo, wrote on April 20 to Ms. Elizondo

"Dear Ligia,

This is just to inform that I have advised UNDP in writing that I will transfer to DPKO effective 1 July 2009. I have also spoken to Martin and advised him that I cannot transfer before that date because the new DPKO contractual arrangements only come into effect on the 1 July. He informed me that the ‘deadline’ for the ALD contracts is 15 May so the period of overlap would only be 6 weeks (assuming Rebecca’s ALD would come into force on the 14th May at the latest). I have asked for some flexibility, which would allow a very long serving and faithful UNDP staff member a little lee-way before he rides off into the sunset.

Becky is very excited about the prospect of going to work for you so I hope that it will work out. With my warm regards and thanks,


Alan Doss
Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo"

E-mail in docx text format, in original MSG (Outlook) format

When Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson's office on July 27 about the and biting incident and the underlying recruitment, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq said "it had to do with a frustrated jobseeker. The only thing I can say is the information I got from UNDP on this is that the hiring process regarding that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their rules." Transcript here, video here.

But as Doss' email in the complaint shows, since it is illegal for the child of a UNDP staff member, as Doss then was, to be hired by UNDP, Doss asked for "a little lee-way" -- to ignore what he called a six week overlap. The propriety of a UN Under Secretary General making personal contact and applying pressure to waive rules and award a job to his daughter has not yet been addressed.

UN's Doss, at right, with Kouchner and Clooney: Doss is connected

Next, Ms. Maximova and Ms. Doss were declared the top two candidates. Ms. Maximova suddenly was offered and accepted a job at the Clinton Foundation / Initiative, and Ms. Doss was given the job.

Mr. Baroncini spoke with the Director of RBAP, Mr. Ajay Chhibber. Initially, Mr. Chhibber took an interest in hearing out Mr. Baroncini, offering him advice. But once Ms. Elizondo realized that Mr. Baroncini might, in the course of his duties, have become aware of the improper influence in the hiring decision, Mr. Baroncini had his email access terminated and was told to no longer come in to UNDP.

Subsequently, according to the complaint filed by Mr. Baroncini:

I voiced my complete disapproval and said that I will challenge this decision with the appropriate personnel.

I handed to Mr. Chhibber a print-out of Alan Doss’ email to Ms. Elizondo of April 20, 2009 and told him, “In case you do not know, this is the way human resources selection works in UNDP.” I repeated that I will challenge this course of events.

Within a couple of minutes a man arrived. He asked for my UN badge and requested that I leave the building. I began collecting my personal belonging. The whole process took several minutes.

Three UN Department of Safety and Security Guards approached me. Immediately, Peter Kolonias, one of the guards, ordered me to enter office 2312 of DC-1. I complied immediately.

I entered the office and sat down escorted by two UN DSS Security Guards. The door was shut. Shortly, my wife joined me (she works elsewhere in UNDP).

After waiting for some time, I asked the guards about the procedures in place and why we had been waiting for so long. In several instances I was told that Ms. Elizondo was giving a written statement and that once she had completed it would be my turn.

I began asking for access to a lawyer and my consulate. I repeated this request frequently (I would say every 15 minutes) both to the guard inside office 2312 and to other officials that entered the office.

I asked my wife to leave office 2312 and look for Mr. Chhibber and ask him to speak with me. I wanted to understand if he had any control concerning what was happening, and I wanted to share my concerns about this absurd escalation of events.

My wife left the office, but the guards outside invited her to join Ms. Elizondo and Ms. Jovita Domingo, a UNDP human resources advisor, inside Ms. Elizondo’s office. There, they questioned my wife about our private life until a UN official wearing a white uniform came in and my wife was invited to leave by Ms. Elizondo.

Once my wife left Ms. Elizondo’s office, they shut the door and had a meeting. My wife returned to office 2312.

The UN official wearing a white uniform along with the third UN DSS guard, Peter Kolonias, joined the two other UN DSS guards inside office 2312. They asked my wife to leave and shut the door.

The UN official wearing a white uniform swiftly informed me that I had two options: leave the building with them or be handcuffed.

I felt that something very wrong was happening and again I requested access to a lawyer, the Italian consulate and to give a statement.

The second or third time I repeated my requested I was assaulted.

First, Peter Kolonias put me to the floor. The two other guards followed immediately. They tried to immobilize me using every sort of technique. I was kicked repeatedly on the leg, stomach and neck. I was punched repeatedly on the neck, head and face. Twice, at close range, I was sprayed a pepper spray on the face. Immediately, and for about two hours thereafter, I was blinded and suffered tremendous pain on the face and eyes. Other than limited access to water, I was denied proper medical treatment despite my repeated requests.

Eventually I was handcuffed. UN DSS guards brought me outside office 2312 and I waited there for about 1½ hours, handcuffed, sitting in a chair in RBAP Directorate area.

At 2:35 pm, NYPD officers arrived and I was officially arrested

Eventually I was escorted outside DC1 building where an ambulance was waiting

I waited handcuffed until approximately 7:40 pm in a waiting room of Bellevue Hospital. After meeting with a Dr. Falck, I was immediately discharged.

I was brought to a police facility where NYPD took my fingerprints, and I awaited transportation to 100 Centre Street.

After routine procedures, I was jailed until 9:30 am of the following day. The jail was no more than 17-18 square meters. The number of detainees kept changing between 18 and 20 men. No restroom. Primitive sanitation. No hygiene facilities.

My case was reviewed, and I was immediately released without any bail payment. I am set to appear in Court on August 10, 2009."

These techniques -- the pepper spraying of those who ask questions, pressing of criminal charges as retaliation -- are the type of tactics that the UN and officials like Alan Doss criticize in places like the Congo. But the UN engages in them right on First Avenue in New York. Now what will happen? Watch this site.

UNDP has told Inner City Press first that

"There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government."

Then after a follow up request by Inner City Press to UNDP spokesperson Stephane Dujarric that UNDP "provide the requested description of the recruitment process, the name of the post and the person awarded, and whether they have any family or personal relationship with the supervisor or selector," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark's spokesperson Christina LoNigro responded that "we cannot comment further on this case at this time as the legal process is ongoing."

* * *

Friday, July 24, 2009

UNDP/PNUD SCANDAL: La relación entre el Ejecutivo y el PNUD podría variar a partir de 2010

PANAMÁ. Una nueva metodología de trabajo implementarán a partir del próximo año, el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y el gobierno panameño.

Así lo anunció el ministro de Economía y Finanzas, Alberto Vallarino, quien dijo que con ese fin se vienen realizando reuniones con altos representantes de este organismo.

Los programas oficiales administrados por el PNUD en Panamá suman 136 millones de dólares.

Vallarino expresó que los fondos para el desarrollo de los programas son entregados en un solo desembolso al PNUD, los que son depositados en un banco privado, y lo que el gobierno propone es manejar los fondos a través de una carta de crédito del Banco Nacional de Panamá y realizar desembolsos mensuales.

El 3% del costo del proyecto pasa a los fondos del PNUD por costos de administración. El ministro cuestionó recientemente las altas cifras que pagaba el Estado a los consultores de este organismo.

UNDP/PNUD SCANDAL: Asesores ganan más que el presidente

El Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) deberá rendirle cuentas, la próxima semana, al Consejo Económico Nacional (CENA) sobre las contrataciones y pagos de consultorías que sobrepasan el salario del Presidente de la República, diputados o ministros.

Alberto Vallarino, ministro de Economía y Finanzas, informó ayer que el Estado ha pagado millones de dólares al PNUD en concepto de consultorías en el que -a su juicio- muchas veces se da "dualidad" de funciones.

"No existe una adecuada rendición de cuentas del PNUD al Estado en cuanto a sus saldos bancarios. Además se están haciendo traspasos de partidas en programas que no han sido ejecutados, de entidades gubernamentales a este organismo internacional y se debe saber en qué se están invirtiendo estos fondos", dijo el titular del MEF.

El CENA aprobó un crédito adicional por 5 millones 403, 594 dólares a la Procuraduría General de la Nación, para poner en ejecución el Nuevo Sistema Procesal Penal, que debe empezar a regir el 2 de septiembre de 2009.

También se destinó un crédito de $ 425. 447, 92 al Órgano Judicial para que cancele el pago de la construcción de despachos judiciales en Arraiján, Donoso, Chepigana, Unión Chocó y Pinogana.

Durante la reunión del CENA también se pospuso la aprobación de un crédito adicional de $72, 8 millones para el pago de vigencias expiradas.

Según Vallarino, esta medida obedece a que en la lista de pago, la gran mayoría de los contratos no tenían el número de gestión de cobro y en otros casos se habían hecho transferencias de partidas en las que no se tiene la documentación de quién sería el beneficiario de estos pagos.

What would Helen do with Panama scandal ?

Will she allow the corrupt UNDP cast to play with her image?
Will she deny it?

UNDP programs in Panama to be reviewed

PANAMA. The Ministry of Economy and Finance is going to have a meeting with representatives of the Development Program of the United Nations (PNUD) over the next few days to discuss the advisory projects that organization has with the Panamanian government.

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Alberto Vallarino has questioned the amount of money that the State has paid to PNUD advisors, because some of them were receiving salaries higher than those earned by ministers.

Vallarino said that although the PNUD is giving advice to the government, the money that it is handling comes from the National Treasury.

The minister said that he called PNUD after the second meeting of the National Economic Council (CENA) place to gain information about the resources the government invested in those programs.

In April this year it was $48 million, which was considerably lower that it was in February, when it was of $59 million.

“What we want from PNUD is clarification of the program’s expenses. This goes beyond the PNUD. It has to do with putting the public finances in order,” said Vallarino.

“We do not want to have any problems with the United Nations, because we appreciate the work they are doing for Panama, but we need to know more,” said the minister.

Vallarino also said that currently his ministry is investigating the concessions given to the Fish and Yacht Club.

The letter was sent to its board of directors asking to appoint three representatives to talk with the General Comptroller and the Ministry of Finance with regards to the landfills.

Helen's first scandal is called PANAMA !!!

Consultants were overpaid


Panama Star PANAMA. The millionaire payments that the State made to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for advisory services has provoked the Finance and Economy Ministry to call the representatives of that international organization to a meeting to explain just who the advisors are and why they are receiving so much money.

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Alberto Vallarino, said that the past administration abused the system by hiring too many UNDP consultants, some of whom received salaries higher than that of the President of the Republic and his ministers. Some advisors have two contracts, one as civil servants and a second as consultants, in what is was an abuse of the system by a group of civil servants.

Meanwhile, during the second meeting of the National Economic Council (CENA), the approval of $72 million in additional credits was postponed due to lack of information and inconsistencies, particularly regarding additional payments to the National Institute of Human Development (INADEH) and other government institutions.

Vallarino is carefully studying and analyzing all the debts the government has with international organizations and private companies.

One of Vallarino’s main goals is to find ways to save money and, at the same time, to generate enough income to allow the Martinelli administration to carry out social interest programs.

The Economy minister is also looking at concessions contracts to make sure that entrepreneurs and companies are paying the money they owe to the state.

The first target of the Ministry of Finance has been the concessions in Amador where, for several years, companies have neglected to pay towards the use of that land.

According to Vallarino, there are inconsistencies in the contracts and money wastage in different areas of the government.

Just two weeks into the Martinelli administration, Vallarino is attempting to clarify the government’s assets and to streamline finances.

The UNDP consultant scandal is the second inconsistency that he has discovered so far. He will probably find more as he begins to understand how the Ministry of Economy and Finance works.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The U.S. Should Seek to Suspend U.N. Activities in North Korea [Brett D. Schaefer]

The United Nations Development Program, the U.N.’s premier development body, is again demonstrating stunningly poor judgment. For those who don’t know the history, information provided by whistleblowers to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations led the U.S. to question UNDP about its practices and activities in North Korea. Based on the information it received, the U.S. initiated an investigation that revealed numerous UNDP violations of U.N. rules and regulations and led the UNDP executive board to suspend its activities in North Korea in March 2007. An independent auditcommissioned by UNDP and released in May 2008 confirmed "how routinely, and systematically, the agency disregarded U.N. regulations on how it conducted itself in Kim Jong-Il's brutal dictatorship, passing on millions of dollars to the regime in the process."

Earlier this year, UNDP announced that it would return to North Korea after securing promises from the DPRK government that it would permit UNDP to operate in a manner that would comply with the U.N. rules and regulations that it had previously ignored.

Since that decision, North Korea has demonstrated its disdain for the U.N. by ignoring the directives of its most powerful body, the U.N. Security Council, regarding its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missiles programs. Moreover, despite the fact that estimates by the World Food Program indicate that over a third of the North Korean population is dependent on food aid, North Korea has increasingly restricted the ability of humanitarian organizations to operate in the country. In March 2009, the North Korean government abruptly informed the U.S. that it would no longer accept food assistance and ordered five non-governmental organizations involved in distributing the food aid to leave the country. In June 2009, North Korea further constrained the ability of the World Food Program to monitor U.N. food distribution, expelled Korean-speaking employees of WFP, and ordered WFP and the U.N. Children's Fund to cease operations in parts of the country.

Yet, in typical U.N. style, UNDP continues with its plans to restore its DRPK activities and WFP and UNICEF seemingly are content to allow North Korea to trim their activities to serve its agenda.

The barbaric indifference of the North Korean government to the suffering of its own people should lead the U.N. to pull out of North Korea all together. In other repressive regimes, the U.N. and NGOs can sometimes work around the government to help the people directly. In these cases, there is some justification for continuing U.N. humanitarian activities. There is little basis for this approach in North Korea. The regime controls virtually all international humanitarian activities. Despite the best efforts of the U.N. and other providers of humanitarian assistance, aid to North Korea is only permitted if it benefits the regime. The U.S. should press for complete suspension of these programs until the North Korea government agrees to permit them to operate in a manner that does not impede their humanitarian mission.

— Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation and editor ofConundrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives.

Friday, July 17, 2009

UNDP and Libya: A Partnership Worth Looking Into

Just to show that it is not above dealing with any shady dictatorship – and not just North Korea or current Iran – the United Nations Development Programme just completed a deal to manage a $1.5 million donation by the Libyan government “to build a school of Muammar Abu-Mnyar Al-Gaddafi in the Gaza Strip” to replace the school “destroyed during the Zionist aggression to Gaza.”

Oh, and Dr. Aisha Muammar Al-Gaddafi was appointed “the Libyan Goodwill ambassador in to the UN’s Development Program” because she embodies the “highest ideals and principles of the United Nations through her assistance to those who need help.” I’m sure the $1.5 million donation by her father – Muammar “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” Al-Gaddafi – had nothing to do with it.

Congress passed legislation in 2007 that required the U.S. to withhold 20 percent of U.S. contributions to the UNDP unless the secretary of state certifies that UNDP has given the U.S. adequate access to information on its programs and activities, is conducting appropriate oversight of UNDP programs and activities globally, and is implementing a whistleblower protection policy equivalent to that of the U.N. Ethics Office.

The law was intended to allow the U.S. to investigate UNDP programs, such as its activities in North Korea and other countries where the regime might be misusing UNDP funds. Considering neither the donor (Libya) nor the possible recipients (Palestinian Authority or the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) nor the UNDP itself are paragons of transparency, accountability or good governance, Congress should press the U.S. administration to look carefully into this project.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

U.N., U.S. move to increase pressure on N.Korea


* U.N. panel close to naming N.Korean sanctions targets

* Committee could complete task as early as Thursday

* U.S. officials tighten screws on North Korean business

By Patrick Worsnip and Paul Eckert

UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council neared agreement on Wednesday on North Korean firms and individuals to be added to a blacklist for involvement in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, diplomats said.

Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters "We are very close" to agreement on the expanded sanctions list. Diplomats from several countries said a council committee that has been discussing the issue for a month was on target to meet a weekend deadline for completing its task and could do so as early as Thursday.

As diplomats put the finishing touches on expanding U.N. sanctions, U.S. officials said they had succeeded in increasing international awareness of methods North Korea uses to disguise its trade in illicit weapons as legal business transactions.

"North Korea engages in a variety of deceptive financial practices that are intended to obscure the true nature of their transactions," said a senior Obama administration official.

A U.S. team is traveling to key world capitals to warn governments and banks that North Korean practices make it "virtually impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate business," the official said in Washington.

Firms and governments in China, Hong Kong and other places North Korea does business were taking seriously the U.S. warnings about Pyongyang's practice of using front companies and unusually large cash transactions, he added.

At the United Nations, the committee, representing all 15 nations on the council, met twice on Wednesday and Turkish envoy Fazli Corman, who chairs the group, said it would meet again on Thursday.

Final agreement "may require some delegations to receive instructions from their capitals," Corman said, adding, "The sense of urgency is there."

The Security Council passed a resolution on June 12 that expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea in response to a nuclear test it carried out on May 25, and asked the committee to add more names to the sanctions list.

The committee in April placed two North Korean companies and a bank on the list in its first action in two years. That move followed a long-range rocket launch earlier in the month by Pyongyang.

This week's blacklisting is expected to go further by specifying individuals and goods to be subject to sanctions, as well as additional companies.

The measure would prohibit companies and nations around the world from doing business with the named firms and require them to freeze assets and impose travel bans on the individuals.

The steps described by the U.S. official were in addition to the U.N. measures and targeted counterfeiting, narcotics trafficking and other North Korean activities in addition to illicit weapons proliferation, officials said.


"There's a broad consensus, including by China, that this is the right way to go and I don't think the Chinese would take this stuff lightly," said a second U.S. official.

The official said there was a growing international consensus that tightening sanctions on North Korean entities is "the best chance we have to influence their calculations."

Names to be put on the list were submitted to the committee last month by the United States, Britain, France and Japan. Western diplomats said China and Russia had been slow to respond, but they believed the delays were mainly bureaucratic.

"We're confident of an outcome which will be commensurate with DPRK (North Korea) actions and will be effective and will significantly improve the (sanctions) regime," said one Western diplomat, speaking on condition he not be identified.

The sanctions are intended to target only companies and individuals connected to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and diplomats said the proposed goods to be sanctioned were also all weapons-related.

The June 12 sanctions resolution banned all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports into the reclusive communist state.

It also authorized U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.

North Korea responded by saying it would take "firm military action" if the United States and its allies tried to isolate it.

The sanctions committee was created after the Security Council adopted punitive measures against North Korea for its first nuclear test in October 2006. (Editing by Eric Beech)

Monday, July 13, 2009

U.N. duo drops $1.2M on Corinthian condo

Darshak Shah and Aruna Thanabalasingam bought the two-bedroom, two-bath condo Unit #10D at 330 E. 38th St. in Murray Hill from Linda L. Pharr for $1.2 million on Jan. 30.

The condo is in The Corinthian, a high-rise built in 1987.

Shah has served as the finance director of the United Nations Development Programme, formed in 1965 and based in New York.

Thanabalasingam has served as the deputy director in the office of human resources of the United Nations Development Programme, which acts as the United Nation's global development network.

There were 164 condo sales in Murray Hill in 2008, with a median price of $628,000.

Filed under: No story tag
Address: Highrise330 E 38th Street, # 10D
Buyer(s): Darshak Shah and Aruna Thanabalasingam
Seller(s): Linda L Pharr
Sale date: 2009-01-30

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

North Korea Cuts Off More U.N. Relief as Nation Starves

Tuesday , July 07, 2009

By George Russell


Alongside its military posturing, North Korea's bellicose dictatorship is continuing to put new restrictions on United Nations relief organizations operating in the country, which are the main lifeline for its starving population — a fact that apparently leaves the Kim Jong Il regime unmoved.

A spokesman for the World Food program has confirmed to FOX News that on July 3, the emergency relief organization was ordered to limit food deliveries to 57 of the 131 North Korean counties it previously served. At the same time, the agency was told that it must give seven days' notice of visits to oversee food deliveries at all of its relief sites — a sharp change from the one-day notice previously required under a deal to retain U.S. support for North Korean relief efforts. As a result, the spokesman said, WFP is "reviewing the current terms and conditions for our work" in North Korea, "to ensure that our work and our accountability is not compromised."

Additional constraints were also slapped on the child relief organization UNICEF in June, according to a spokesman, Chris de Bono. He told FOX News that the regime banned UNICEF from operating in its northerly Ryanggan province, which borders China, and is one of the impoverished country's poorest areas. UNICEF still operates in 56 other counties across North Korea.

The restrictions make even more dire the food situation in a country where starvation and malnutrition are widespread, even as the Kim regime continues to set off atomic blasts and fire missiles in the direction of Japan and Hawaii.

Furthermore, they once again raise questions about the U.N.'s ability to monitor whatever relief activities that remain in the country. UNICEF's spokesman told FOX News that only WFP had won the right to 24-hour notification for inspection visits, and that all other U.N. institutions in North Korea have operated with the one-week request limit as a matter of course.

UNICEF has ten international staff and 20 local staffers in North Korea. None of the international staff speak Korean. The agency is budgeted to spend $13 million a year on North Korean operations, principally on food for infants, children and pregnant women, along with emergency vaccination programs, essential medicines and clean water supplies.

But nowhere near that amount of money from international donors is currently available. According to its Web site, UNICEF has received only 10 percent of the total, or about $1.3 million, undoubtedly a result of the North Korean regime's aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons. Unless more money is received soon, the UNICEF spokesman said, "it will be difficult to maintain the current level of operations and this will have serious negative consequences for children and other vulnerable people."

The same funding shortfall applies to the World Food Program, which told FOX News a month ago that donor nations had provided only $75.4 million toward a 2009 goal of $503 million for North Korea, with more than half of that amount — $38.8 million — food aid that was not delivered in 2008.

The only other U.N. agency that has significant operations in North Korea, the United Nations Population Fund, reports that it has received no curtailment in its activities, but it only operates in 11 North Korean counties. It was slated to spend roughly $8.3 million in North Korea between 2007 and 2009, chiefly for birth control and other forms of "reproductive health" and for helping the regime collect population statistics.

Nonetheless, a big question mark still hangs over the North Korean operations of the United Nations Development Program, the U.N.'s major anti-poverty agency, which suspended operations in North Korea in 2007 in the wake of revelations from an independent inquiry that it had wrongfully provided millions in hard currency to the North Korean regime, ignored U.N. Security Council sanctions in passing on dual-use equipment that could conceivably be used in the country's nuclear program, and allowed North Korean government employees to fill key positions.

Click here to read the FOX News story on the report.

The North Korea case also led to a major crisis of the United Nations' whistleblower protection system, after UNDP refused to follow the recommendations of the U.N.'s chief ethics officer, Robert Benson, and pay a penalty for violating the rights of a UNDP whistleblower who brought UNDP's North Korean rulebreaking to light. UNDP has not changed its position.

Click here to read the story on the ethics office decision.

UNDP's governing executive board voted last January to allow the agency to return to North Korea, providing that it corrected its previous abuses and win North Korean agreement. A UNICEF spokesman was quoted last month as saying that two UNDP staffers were in Pyongyang, working on reopening UNDP's office.

Queried by FOX News, a UNDP spokesman revealed that one UNDP staffer was currently in North Korea "in temporary premises." The main focus of UNDP activity was indeed on renovating its office building, which "is in a state of disrepair following two years of non-use."

UNDP's actual operations in North Korea, however, "have yet to resume," the spokesman said. "We are monitoring the situation carefully," he added. "Full operational capability is not expected for some time to come."

That said, the spokesman underlined that the latest Security Council resolutions imposing additional sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear brinkmanship "exempts humanitarian and developmental activities which affect civilian populations."

George Russell is executive editor of FOX News.