Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Sudan, Disarmament Irregularities Freeze UN Program in Referendum Run Up

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 29 -- Mismanagement and corruption in the UN system, hardly rare, sometimes comes to light at a particularly bad time. Such is the case in Sudan with irrregularity in the disarmament programs run by the UN Development Program.

Less than a month before the Southern Sudan secession referendum which many predict may give rise to a renewed civil war, UNDP confirmed in response to questions from Inner City Press that it has suspended seeking funding for its disarmament programs.

This is the answer provided to Inner City Press by the UN's Spokesman's Office:

From: UN Spokesperson unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
Subject: Answers to your questions
To: Inner City Press
Date: Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 7:42 PM

SUDAN Please provide the UN system's response..

Our colleagues at UNDP provided the following: “The UN’s DDR programme in South Sudan is facing challenges. The UN’s team in Sudan was concerned that the total number of former combatants, and women associated with the armed forces, that have been reintegrated has been low. That is why we commissioned an independent review and why an internal audit is currently on going. UNDP management expects that the review will enable us to improve the focus of the programme, assess the objective conditions for its implementation and take a critical look at the project and local capacities on the ground. It will also help us in terms of the redesign of the programme and only then will we seek future funding.

We take audits and evaluations very seriously so as to improve our performance on the ground. The issues you highlight in your questions are being critically examined. Once the review has been thoroughly studied and the audit completed, it is vital that corrective measures be taken rapidly and in consultation with all parties involved.

In Southern Sudan, registration, disarmament not shown

The overall political context under which this programme operates is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). As you know, some of the planning assumptions in the CPA have not yet materialized on the ground, increasing the complexities and challenges of implementing the programme.

More broadly, this programme is operating in a state that is recovering from a long civil war. That has a very significant impact on the results of reintegration --whether it is the abject poverty in many rural areas, the lack of opportunities or the almost non-existent infrastructure.

That being said we owe it to the people of South Sudan and our donors to make this programme as successful as possible despite all of the difficulties. We are always looking for ways to improve it and make the intra-UN cooperation more effective.”

While the investigation and suspension of requests for more funding is all to rare in the UN system in response to unveiled irregularities, it comes at a very bad time. Some call it inexcusable. Watch this site.

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