"....The staff is sick and tired of the impunity extended by the office of the Secretary-General to senior managers for their failings especially in situations where it has led to death and disability....."
- UN Staff Union
Saturday, July 24, 2010
U.N. Ignores Its Own Freeze on Deals With Alleged Somali Food Distribution 'Cartel'
Even after the World Food Program promised it would not engage in any new work with a "de facto cartel" running food delivery in Somalia, the relief agency signed off on deals to pay more than $75,000 to at least one of the embargoed firms, Fox News has learned.
At the time, it looked like a bold attempt to contain a hemorrhaging humanitarian scandal.
On March 10, 2010 — the same day it was slammed in a report to the United Nations for "irregular" procedures in supplying food to war-ravaged Somalia — the embattled World Food Program promised it "would not engage in any new work" with three Somali food distributors alleged in the report to operate a "de facto cartel" dominating the relief agency's food delivery business.
Yet two months later, on May 11, 2010, according to WFP documents examined by Fox News, the U.N. relief agency signed off on deals to pay more than $75,000 to at least one of the embargoed firms, for "transportation/logistical services," even though WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran's announced freeze on business with the company was still in force.
According to a WFP spokesman, a detailed review of WFP's Somalia operations is "expected to start this month," under the auspices of the Auditor General of India, who has just begun serving a term as the relief organization's external, i.e., independent, auditor.
The spokesman added that "it will be left to WFP's executive board to decide whether the results of the external audit are made public." (The board is made up of 35 nations, including the U.S.; it supervises and authorizes WFP's activities at twice-yearly meetings.)
WFP was not alone in sending cash to the sanctioned firm, according to records discovered by Fox News on the United Nations Procurement Division website.
Another procurement branch of the U.N. had awarded two deals worth some $286,000 to the U.S. subsidiary of the same enterprise, on March 31 and April 28, long after Sheeran's freeze announcement had been given worldwide publicity.
Click here to see the procurement awards: Set 1 | Set 2
When Fox News asked earlier this month whether that freeze was still in place, a WFP spokesman was emphatic that the organization still "has not awarded new contracts to the three contractors named in the report."
Whether the WFP payments were "new contracts" may amount to hairsplitting by the food agency. The payments examined by Fox News represented fresh cash transfers to the embargoed firm for specific deliveries that were entered into WFP's accounting system on May 11 under WFP Purchase Order 4700237846.
The goods involved in the deals were described in the document Fox News inspected as "non-food items."
The transportation company named in the WFP purchase order is Deeqa Construction and Water Well Drilling Co. Ltd., a long-time Somalia vendor to the U.N. relief agency. It is one of the three firms named in a report by a special unit of the U.N. Security Council known as the Monitoring Group on Somalia, or MGS, as having allegedly "dominated" the delivery of WFP food aid in that war-torn country for more than a decade, and in some cases as allegedly having ties with armed Islamic groups.
The report was sent on March 10 — the same day Sheeran made her freeze decision — to the U.N. Security Council's committee that monitors a longstanding arms embargo in Somalia and Eritrea, as well as anti-terrorist financial sanctions.
In the report, the MGS cited "multiple, independent" — but unnamed — witnesses who said that a 2008 raid on Deeqa food trucks by armed Somali militia, which led to the theft and resale of most of 1,220 tons of WFP food aid, was staged.
The report also charged that a radical Islamic militia called Hizbul Islam, a sometimes rival and sometimes ally of the terrorist group Al Shabaab, protected a Deeqa warehouse during a 2009 firefight between the radicals and the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. The food was subsequently removed safely and then, the MGS charged, later diverted for resale to a Somali food market.
In addition, the MGS report delivered a scathing review of WFP's overall performance in food distribution, declaring that contracts are awarded competitively only "in theory."
The group said, its "preliminary investigations" showed "the existence of a de facto cartel, characterized by irregular procedures in the awarding of contracts by the WFP Somalia country office, discriminatory practices and preferential treatment."
Regarding the heads of the three named distribution firms, the report declared, "In both a literal and figurative sense, these three individuals have long been 'gatekeepers' of WFP food aid to Somalia."
Deeqa was one of the alleged cartel members, and its chief executive officer, Abdulqakir Nur, was also named personally by the Monitoring Group, as being among Somalia's wealthiest and most influential men.
Nur has strenuously denied all charges leveled by the Monitoring Group, and condemned its report as "factually wrong, highly politicized, and damaging to the well-being of the Somali people and U.N. peace efforts in the region."
He has declared that he cooperated fully with MGS investigators, and provided proof of his company's and his own innocence, but that proof was disregarded.
Deeqa's major line of business with WFP in Somalia may have been transportation and logistics, but its U.S. subsidiary, Deeqa Enterprise, LLC, lists the nature of its business on a U.N. procurement site known as the U.N. Global Marketplace as "trader." Deeqa lists itself as capable of providing a wide variety of foodstuffs, not to mention architecture and engineering services, transport policy and planning, and air, sea and land transportation services.
In the case of its two deals with the U.N. Procurement Division, Deeqa Enterprise was operating as a vendor of building materials for U.N. engineers in Somalia and concrete barriers to be used for crowd control purposes by peacekeepers in the capital of Mogadishu.
Queried about the Deeqa Enterprise deals, a U.N. Procurement Division spokesman in New York declared that the U.N. headquarters procurement unit was "not involved in this acquisition." He also said that the Procurement Division "is dependent on each U.N. organization to share information and has not received any notification from WFP on this vendor."
The spokesman added that Deeqa had been chosen in each case by the U.N.'s local procurement branch after competitive bidding.
The U.N. spokesman's remarks may have been true — but they were also misleading.
The U.N. procurement arm that struck the $286,000 worth of deals is known as UNSOA (shorthand for United Nations Support Office for AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia). U.N. documentation shows UNSOA is a participating member of the U.N.'s Kenya-based Somalia Country Team, a collective assembly of 18 U.N. agencies funds and programs in the beleaguered nation.
The branch of WFP responsible for the food agency's long term business relationship with the alleged cartel members, known as the WFP Country Office in Somalia — is also a member of the U.N. country team.
According to well-established U.N. procedures around the world, all of those country team members meet regularly to discuss their common issues and problems, in Somalia's case under the auspices of the U.N.'s Somalia Resident Coordinator, a British native named Mark Bowden. Bowden is also designated as Somalia's local Humanitarian Coordinator, meaning that he is also charged with orchestrating relief efforts.
The U.N. country team in Somalia was undoubtedly very aware of the Monitoring Group and its concerns about Deeqa and other suppliers, since the leakage of money, weapons and food aid to Islamic militias was a fundamental focus of the Monitoring Group's work on its visit.
Whether the country team — and WFP's local representatives in particular — was happy with the Monitoring Group's investigations and conclusions is another issue.
In their report, the investigators say they "experienced obstructionist non-cooperation by the WFP country office" in investigating the country's major aid contractors, and were also denied access to U.N. Humanitarian Air Service flights to visit far-flung reaches of Somalia. (WFP's Sheeran has said, in a letter to the head of the U.N. sanctions committee on Somalia, that the denial was caused by the fact that such flights are legally limited to "humanitarian purposes," and alternative flights were available.)
In fact, many of the charges leveled by the Monitoring Group against WFP in Somalia are very similar to criticisms made of the WFP Somalia operation a year ago by WFP's own Inspector General.
In a report submitted to WFP's executive board in June, 2009, he noted that the agency had a "continuing issue of inadequate monitoring" of the agency's partners in Somalia, and there was a "lack of monitoring and evaluation tools to reliably report on food distribution for project activities." He also noted numerous "procurement weaknesses and irregularities" in contracting transport and logistics services and food commodities" — without specifying details.
Lack of coordination — or sometimes, inaction — toward U.N. vendors suspected or convicted of serious rules violations is an old story at the U.N., even though the world organization has been claiming for years that it was about to change.
In January 2008, a Fox News investigation revealed that the United Nations chief anti-poverty arm, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), had deliberately decided to ignore the suspension by the U.N. Secretariat of an Italian firm named Corimec S.p.A after it was found guilty of bribing U.N. procurement officers in exchange for contracts.
In the wake of the UNDP decision regarding Corimec, however, the U.N. supposedly was going to do something about the problem. It set up an inter-agency procurement group — now known as the Procurement Network of the High-Level Committee on Management — which was supposed to work on harmonizing such things as dealing with sanctioned vendors.
But progress has apparently been glacial. It was only in February 2010, that another high-level unit set aside $3.2 million for six "priority projects." One of them was called a "vendor eligibility project: development of a common framework on vendor sanctions for the United Nations system."
The "vendor eligibility project" was targeted for completion in June, 2010. U.N. officials were unable to tell Fox News if the project was up and running before this story was published.
Meantime, on July 12, yet another important player entered the fray against the Monitoring Group report: the U.N.'s Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia, Mark Bowden.
In a special report to the Security Council, he reminded members that providing humanitarian aid to Somalia, a country where 3.2 million people, or about 43 percent of the population, are refugees, was a high-risk business. During March and April 2010, he said, 13 militia attacks were launched against U.N. relief agencies or their local partners, and several warehouses or relief agencies looted.
He also defended the small number of contractors used by his relief organizations as due to "the difficult operating environment in Somalia, coupled with a very limited group of contractors." At the same time, he argued "mitigation measures to address politicization, misuse and misappropriation of humanitarian assistance are in place" — and a new tracking system for contractors "is in the testing of functionality phase."
The concern that outweighed all others, in Bowden's report, was a dramatic drop in humanitarian funding for Somalia — the fuel for his operation. So far this year, the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has tracked only $160 million in new funding for Somalian relief, with the U.S. providing about $28 million, or 17.5 percent, of that. That is about a 40 percent drop from the previous year.
Along with unspent money from last year, OCHA has about $375 million on hand for humanitarian assistance in Somalia this year, but it estimates that it needs $596 million.
One of the major reasons for the dry-up of money, Bowden made clear, was growing international concern over the activities of Al Shabaab — one of the things that led to the latest Monitoring Group visit in the first place.
Whether his assurances — and those offered by WFP — would cause donor nations to overlook the concerns raised by the MSG, and open their collective wallets further, was not known.
For its part USAID, the agency that is the biggest funder of WFP activities, told Fox News it "takes seriously" the allegations raised by the Monitoring Group, and will "continue to work with WFP and our partners in the international community to address the issues raised in the report."
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JOSE RAMOS HORTA - PRESIDENT OF EAST TIMOR
‘‘You know how many layers of bureaucracy there are when the European Union wants to help East Timor? Well, they don’t provide the funds to us, the funds allocated are managed by world bank. And the world bank has its own layers of bureaucracy. And they charge for that. The project is then managed by UNDP. But UNDP is only good at doing studies, they don’t execute projects.’‘
Boutros Boutros-Ghali on UN:
"perhaps half of the UN work force does nothing useful"
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A full chapter (7) dedicated to UNDP and UN Secretariat. But it today at Amazon.com (click above picture)
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Aicha Gaddafi You are Fired !
UNDP continues to be in bed with other dictators. Will clean it one at a time.
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UNDP's moto is: - eliminate the uncomfortable, frighten those who disagree, "educate" the perplexed..
UNDP Chief Finance Officer
The UNDP is a secretive organization and so far has kept in the dark every information related to its Chief Finance Officer and Deputy Assistant Administrator, Mr. Darshak Shah. Click on the picture for more on Finance Office of UNDP.
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Should tax-payers dollars be used to photograph beautiful breasts - even when making a valid point?
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CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE Chris Carter's latest Credit Card scandal - can he work at UNDP after that? It seems YES he is full tested!!
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Thinking about buying a new car this year? Why, you evil Westerner! You don’t need that. You are demanding your new car off the sweat, toil, and exploitation of the world’s poorest people in developing countries.
Eveline Herfkens belongs to Jail - she should return imemdiately Dutch Taxpayers money.
if anyone else would have done what Eveline Herfkens did, would have long been in jail. We denounce this impunity and demand justice.
Andrew Mitchell - says Helen Clark is up to no good!
1. UNDP’s partnership with the World Bank needs to be more effective, particularly in fragile and crisis-affected countries. 2. UNDP’s near universal mandate means its technical resources are spread very thinly. The Board does not provide strategic direction. HR management is weak. It has a weak results chain. 3. There is limited evidence of active senior management consideration of cost control. Country evidence points to mixed progress on demonstrating cost-efficiency. 4. The Executive Board is politicised and there is a lack of consensus on the key areas for reform. It is not clear that current plans for change will deliver the required depth and breadth of reform. 5. Evidence gathered at country level was highly critical of UNDP’s ability to deliver results. Its delivery can be undermined by staffing issues and bureaucratic processes. 6. Its performance in fragile states is mixed. It has reasonable training and a range of guidance and analytical tools but struggles to fill posts. 7. There is no evidence that the Climate Strategy was directly guiding resource allocation decisions
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“When funds intended for life-saving treatment and prevention are stolen, that theft is tantamount to murder.” CLICK ON PICTURE FOR MORE
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H.E. Dirk Niebel - German Development Minister
"I take the accusations made in the media concerning corruption and breach of fiduciary duty at the Global Fund very seriously and I am sure that the Fund will clarify the matter without delay. Germany is one of the biggest donors to the Global Fund. I have therefore seen to it that a special review will be held. I have frozen all further disbursements to the Fund until matters have been fully clarified, and I will ask a representative of the Fund to come to the BMZ to discuss the matter."
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The U.N. Exposed
How the United Nations Sabotages America's Security and Fails the World (Click in picture to purchase the book)
Share now information about illegal dealings at United Nations
If you are in possession of UNDP or any other United Nations Agency' contracts, correspondence, financial records or databases, which you believe detail wrongdoing such as fraud, mismanagement and abuse of authority, and you have failed to have UN's internal control, oversight and justice systems respond and/or react to your claims, you can send them to UNDP-WATCH and we will make them public keeping your identity anonymous and confidential.
Send an email to: email@example.com
Helen Clark is watching you!
Gaddafi aint got nothing on UNDP - Click on the picture for more!
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C'est vraiment ce que tu veux pour ta carriere?
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Because UNDT is the first level of the UN’s two-tiered justice system, there is a possibility that this decision may be appealed. Hopefully, the Secretary-General will not be “absurd” enough to do so. Click above to go to GAP page.
Andrew Mitchell Demands Transparency from United Nations
And I promise you as well that in future, when it comes to international development, we will want to see hard evidence of the impact your money makes. Not just dense and impenetrable budget lines but clear evidence of real effect
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT UNITED NATIONS
Ban Ki Moon supports Ethics Decision on UNDP North Korea
Question: He recommends strongly that UNDP pays 14 months back pay to the whistleblower. Does the Secretary-General stand behind that recommendation? Should UNDP in fact pay that money, or are they free to rebuff that recommendation? Spokesperson: We will see what is going to happen. The Secretary-General of course is behind Mr. Benson on his report. There is no doubt about it. What UNDP will do, we will be seeing this; how they will implement that report.
UNDP Watch is a grouping of United Nations Staff committed to openness. We believe that everyone has the right to access information held by United Nations.
Despite a stated commitment to openness, UNDP remain a highly secretive agency.
Although a wealth of information is available on some UNDP websites, its Executive Board operate behind closed doors, much important programme and administrative information is never made available and, as a rule, information that is disclosed is provided only after relevant decisions have effectively been taken.
While UNDP has adopted “internal policies” on information disclosure, they in fact operate on precisely the opposite presumption. For the most part, they list which documents will be disclosed and when, and there is a presumption against the disclosure of all the other information they hold. They do not establish right of access, the lists of documents subject to disclosure is limited, they do not set out clear and narrow grounds for refusing access and they do not provide for independent oversight mechanisms to ensure proper implementation of the policy.
The UNDP WATCH is calling for the complete overhaul of these policies.
"...We believe that without accountability, there is impunity. We ask that you (Secretary General) not be complicit in cover-up of what happened prior to 11 Dec attack. The staff is sick and tired of the impunity extended by the office of the Secretary-General to senior managers for their failings especially in situations where it has led to death and disability."