Investigative Report Discloses Abuses Of Humanitarian Funds For Yemen By UN NGOs

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Al-Thawra Net

Al-Thawra newspaper obtained reports and documents proving the corruption of organizations operating in Yemen during the period of aggression

These documents reveal the fate of the funds provided to the Yemeni people as humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering caused by the aggression coalition since 2015, as revealed by the ongoing abuses on Administrative and practical level and even agreements signed with the Yemeni authorities.

Reports indicate that Organizations have allocated, to their Headquarters and regional offices abroad a big portion of humanitarian assistance, spending about 60% of these assistance on organizations operational expenditures, furniture and support; allocate huge sums, irrationally, to implementers for relief distributions processes, surveys required, direct and indirect support.

On the same regard, the World Food Program (WFP) has allocated $ 599 million (330 billion YER), distribution, supervision and survey costs for the year 2019, in addition to $ 80 million (44 billion YER) was allocated for transportation.

Al-Thawra Newspaper has published an investigative report exposing the corruption of international organizations working in Yemen.

Experts

In addition, on same time that Yemen has qualified cadres who can do their jobs in best possible way, with a suitable salary, however these organizations attract foreign experts with high amounts, despite the futility of their existence. On same regard, a memo of the United Nations, which Al-Thawra earlier received, has disclosed that 8 employees affiliated to one of UN International organizations working in Yemen received about $ 50 million (30 billion YER) as salaries for only 11 months. Meanwhile, according to reports, it was revealed that the Director of the WHO office, Nivio Zagaria in Yemen, during the period between 2016 – September 2018, was hired unqualified Filipino staff, already worked for him in Philippine, and appointed them to high-paying positions, two of them were assigned only to take care of the dog ​​the Director.

The UN organization pays a big amount of money to secure its staff housing, in addition to other premiums as a risk allowance, regardless the costs of delivering aid to conflict areas, in which the United Nations said that costs are very high, considering that Yemen is a dangerous and probably poses threats to them. The memo, as well, revealed that Internet bill for WFP, in one year, costed 1.2 million US dollars (660 million YER) on time that thousands of Yemeni families are starving.

Diesel Bill

In 2018 agreement, WFP offered a tender to purchase a liter of diesel from abroad for 70 cents to be purchased in 2019, as planned , in 92 cents (550 YER). This price does not include transportation costs, and not considered a commercial price, nor taxable and customs fee, as it is exempted. In 2019, the liter of diesel price in Yemeni commercial market reached 66 cents (400 YER) included tax, custom fees, transportation costs and profits, in addition that price of oil derivatives witnessed a decline in current year comparing to last year. A report in relevant reveals that only 40%  of the agreed quantity of diesel was available(average of 3.5 million liters of 15 million liters per a month.

Customs exemptions

Al-Thawrah newspaper obtained a document proving repeated requests of customs exemptions by WFP for purpose of accessing goods to merchants. The document contains WFP apology for the repeated request, pointing out that was done spontaneously and unintentionally.

The program aimed to provide less than half of humanitarian assistance, coinciding with project term in order to extend the time to seize the opportunity of disburse double sums as operational expenses. Within 18 months, according to the extension document between the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and WFP for 2018, the program has provided aid covered only nine months. The report has further added that “WFP and its partner, the Danish Council have hidden, confiscated and tampered with thousands of food baskets in Hajjah province and provided incomplete baskets, besides duplicate disbursement of thousands baskets in same area, despite that some families unneeded for relief.

Operational expenses, possessed of 70% of total funds provided as aid, is considered a large image of international corruption in Yemen. The organizations of today are just only a margin of extortion. They use political differentiations as a tool for maneuver between Sanaa and Aden. This, pointedly, is an unacceptable blackmail by the UN, Economist Rashid al-Haddad has stated.

Mr. Al-Haddad has further said the problem of operational expenses and wasting big funds allocated in humanitarian aid to Yemen is a precedent for aggression and siege. ” there is a lobby embodied the culture of sharing humanitarian relief with international organizations. Therefore, all what provided is far away of objectives targeted. Accordingly, this has become a culture in absence of control while disturbance process. He added  with continuation of aggression and siege, this matter is not acceptable anymore, not only by government agencies, but also to victim people whose traded by organizations in international forums without reaching these billions of dollars for poor and needy people except crumbs.”

Lise Grande Plane Expenses

On same time that 250,000 patients were banned to travel abroad for treatment from Sana’a airport , the cost of weekly flights of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, reached $ 120 million in one year, with clear misuses for Humanitarian funds for UN personals. Official sources reported to Al-Thawra. According to Yemeni official statement at Health Ministry, 30% of those patients are children.

Al-Thawara has reviewed some projects as attached in the report submitted by international organizations to the Supreme Council for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and International Cooperation, including the American Mercy Corps, World Communities Organization and Save the children international Organization. These projects revealed that majority funds for projects are allocated to private expenses international organization. whereas, the rest of funds are spent wrongly to suit the nature of the ongoing country critical stage.

Injustice Portion

Mercy Corps, in Yemen Emergency program 2019, has allocated 63% of the project amounted $ 11.9 million (6.5 billion YER). As well as, 17% project value allocated for training, workshops and meetings, while Yemeni people gets only 20%, estimated to 2.4 million dollars (1.3 billion YER).

On  the same regards, the Save Children Organization has allocated (2.9 billion YER) of the project valued $ 5.2 million, representing 41% as salaries and benefits for project workers in Yemen, 30% is administrative expenses and salaries of employees at headquarter offices in Washington, and foreign staff in Yemen, while the rest amount is spent on projects unrelated to the emergency response program.

The International Communities Organization presented a plan for the project Yemeni Communities Stronger Together, which was amounted $ 11.4 million (6.3 billion YER) to be outside scope of community service by 90%; spending 10.3 million dollars (5.6 billion YER) for organization’s expenditures as salaries for personnel, marginal benefits, equipment and supplies, as well as vehicles, and $ 1.8 million allocated as unpaid expenses which are freely to spend by the organization, in addition to survey program classified as intelligence work by the Yemeni authorities, while Only 10% of the project value being spent on essential services projects, although the amounts allocated to the projects are regarded to international forums, assuming   these funds given for Yemeni people.

Inappropriateness

Corruption of international agencies does not stop there; the funds allocated as grants for Yemenis are wasted in projects implementation and purchase materials with bad specifications and a large deviation rate. The report reveals that projects related to Seoul Organization ( UNICEF’s partners) set deviation based measures for its projects implementation by 116%, including rehabilitation of some destroyed schools and health projects, such as expired or unwanted drugs at current situation, in addition to spoiled food items as disclosed by Al-Thawrah in previous investigations.

Mr. Al-Hadad, in his speech, has continued saying Despite the continued work of organizations in Yemen since beginning of aggression, “the poverty rate was risen to 85%; unemployment rate, as well, increased more than 65%, and the number of affected and malnutrition victims was increase, resulting spread epidemics and diseases”, the economic journalist Al-Haddad declared , attributing the reasons behind all this to the aggression and  blockade, as international organizations have played a major role in these phenomena because they failed to reduce risks on public health or mitigate the damage of disaster on humanitarian file.

According to the United Nations, 20 million Yemenis in need to emergency health and food care, including 14 million are at risk of starvation and 11 million are at risk of dying because of epidemics, and this matter never taken into consideration by organizations as much as they seek for earning, which actually tells the reality of their work.

Obstruction And Reason

In context of talk about hindering the humanitarian aid to be accessed to citizens and wasting money,  Al-Thawrah got documents on illegal abuses caused obstruction of organizations staff mobility and activities based regulations agreed between the Yemeni authorities and those components.

From this side, Mr. Abdul Mohsen Al-Tawoos, the chairman of the Supreme Council for Coordination and Administration of Humanitarian Affairs and International Cooperation, stated that the suspended projects are the ones where the administrative expenditure and expenses reached to 80% of the total project fund.

One of such abuses is delay in submission of reports required by the UN and international organizations, or violation of the Organization’s lines, move confidentially, in accordance with basic and sub-agreements of projects.

Apologies For Such Abuses

On 29th  of September of last year, the International Relief (UNICEF partners) sent an official memorandum to President of the Supreme Council (the formerly National Authority for Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), confirming that an intense organization’s vehicle has moved from Hajjah to Sana’a, possessed documents of the completed UNICEF project with no permission, resulted detention of the vehicle. According to the document containing the apology of the organization, the authorities in relevant prevented organization employees from moving and seized the car of the organization.  Another apology document is arresting an employee affiliated to the National Development and Humanitarian Response Foundation in Sana’a( UNICEF partners) at checkpoint of Al-Azraqain, in October, last year and confiscating the documents he possesses. This was the result of crossing without a permit to return to Sana’a.

An official source at the Ministry of Interior told Al-Thawra that it is the duty of security apparatus to take the necessary measures in this regard, as the country is under aggression and needs to be alert to all penetration operations that the enemy is plotting. The sources further added  any person holds documents belong to an organization, with no holding the transit permits from the authority in relevant, the appropriate decision will be taken, even if he is an employee to the Supreme Council.

UNICEF’s Supplies And Shipments

Al-Thawra reviewed a document sent by the UNICEF, on 13 October to the Director General of Medical Supply at the Ministry of Public Health and Population, Mr. Mohamed Al-Gheili, including an apology for arriving locomotive belongs to the organization, carrying 1706 cartons of medicines to the Ministry’s stores at the Afar area, in Hajjah governorate, resulted stopping that locomotive based the document.  “It was supposed to reach the health centers at the governorate,” the report stated.

The abuses of international organizations and UN are not limited to changing the routes. The documents confirm that the organizations communicate directly with government institutions and offices without informing the Supreme Council to coordinate with body in relevant, in accordance with the agreements made between the Council and the organizations.

Illegal Data

In early November, CARE International transferred data of foreign employees’ passports through the Immigration and Passports Department, according to a document issued by the organization, including an apology to the Supreme Council for this issue, pointing out that the process was ” done unintentionally “, as the body in relevant is the council, not  the Authority.

On March 25, the National Foundation for Development and Humanitarian Response sent an official memo to the Director General of Education Office at Saada governorate, addressing him on the scheduled regular classes.

The document says that “the donor (Yemen Humanitarian Fund) and the main education cluster did not agree to establish regular classes, justifying that war is continued, and the current interventions are emergency. The document further stated that ” the foundation cant overtake donors conditions and education cluster specifications; obligated to implement activity based project plan create semi-regular semesters”. This communication was made with no refer back to the Supreme Council. This override requires suspending implementation until coordination based agreed between the organization and Yemeni authorities.

Confidential Events

Some of violations by international humanitarian organizations reached to establish secret activities without Council authorization, which leads to suspension of activity by security apparatus. According to Al-Thawra sources, these violations might be led to suspend the organization business and investigate its activity until its officials adhered to what agreed for to resume work.

A document obtained by Al-Thawra which revealed violations of Grant Thornton for Ltd consultations through implementing a training course on the OCHA M&E project in earlier July without coordination with the Council, and prior to its approval of the projects.

The International Company for Technical Consulting and Business was apologized in earlier September to the council for its violations during the last period and not follow the proper procedures, calling for basic cooperation agreement to be issued between them. This means that its work during previous period was conducted randomly and without permission of body in relevant for managing and coordinating its business.

Suspicious Acts And Terrorist Organizations

According to security source, some organizations seize opportunity of humanitarian work to implement projects that serve aggression forces through working within the framework of soft and psychological warfare, and exploit suffering of citizens to make money or achieve a security, intelligence or community breach.The report reveals that Mercy Corps is providing cash to sheikhs and social figures at conflict areas in Yemen, as well as supporting the terrorist group of Ansar al-Sharia in Abyan by dealing with a terrorist organization called For All, by dealing with Somalia merchant  affiliated to terrorist organization to supply aid without a commercial record, despite other offers submitted by well-known Yemeni merchants at lower prices based an investigation done by the same organization, in which Al-Thwarah obtained a secret copy of it..

False Processing

In a memorandum sent to the Deputy Chairman of the National Commission, Majid Azzan, on May 14th 2019, Mercy Corps said it took counteractive actions against the backdrop of abuses committed by the Qatari director in Taiz, including the misuse of food baskets and dealing with unlicensed dealers, by taking the decision to terminate the contract with the Qatari director, operations and finance directors last April. An earlier investigation reveals that the Qatary director’s departure from Yemen was planned by the organization for unrelated reasons.

Intelligence Moves And Sexual Contacts Surveys

The report also included information, confirming that “some staff of international organizations carried out intelligence and security suspicious movements, resulted to arrested some of them while traveling in secret, despite the facilities provided by the Supreme Council.”

Al-Thawra received an official memorandum sent by the National Authority to the Central Statistical Organization with UNICEF which indicate a partnerships with UNICEF to conduct the MICS and SMART survey which includes collection on sexual data about Yemeni families on 27 of August.

Immoral And Sexual Abuse

In another memorandum on 17th of earlier September, the Commission confirmed the suspension of the survey and hold the two partners the fully responsibility in case of its implementation, pointing out the violation of the organization and the agency as mentioned in the previous memorandum, in addition to the survey forms contain axes which may harm the security, and another contrary to the ethics of Yemeni families and cause problems at the society.  The survey did not stop, according to a memo sent to the NISS in the same month.

Al-Thawra received  a complaint submitted to the United Nations, mainly on WFP and UNICEF by one of the female employees of Al-Arish company contracted with the Food Program in Hodeidah governorate. The complain contains a  report related to sexual harassment to the female from UNICEF & WFP international staff which is  pushing her to provide sexual favors if she wants to stay at her work in return.

In 2015, a report by UN Assistant Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed that one of three female staff members had been sexually harassed at work, and 40,000 staff around the world committed 60 cases of misconduct, including homosexuals, sexual intercourse, Porn images and videos and carry drugs in official cars.

Unlistened voice

In one of the solutions put forward by the authorities to reduce the violations and financial corruption of the organizations, the Supreme Council proposed to convert food aid to financial aid, so that the cost of expenditure is used to get the needy people to receive an adequate return instead of the basket, which is not enough for some families for one week to return later to eat leaves.

Economist Rashid al-Haddad says that this mechanism is more feasible than the current one which failed with the testimony of the organizations themselves and the approval of the authorities, so the mechanism of financial disbursement will be more feasible. What can be caused by commercial mobility in the local market, which is suffering from a severe recession, as a result of the decline of income level of the Yemeni citizen by 54% based latest estimates, in addition to the role it will play in reducing the deterioration of state currency.

Written By The Investigative Journalist, Abdulqader Othman