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No Movement on Review of UN Cyprus CFO Who Got Cypriot Citizenship, UN Watch-Stealing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive then video

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 – Amid delay of the UN's Cyprus talks, Inner City Press on February 21 asked about the delay and the case of the "Chief Financial Officer of UNFICYP [United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus who] has been recently granted citizenship of Cyprus.... is there any policy on host countries of peacekeeping missions giving citizenship to internationals that are based there?"

   UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq replied, "I'm not aware of someone from UNFICYP taking Cypriot nationality, but I'll check on that." There is more, below. And on February 28, about another incident, Inner City Press asked the UN, transcript here and below. A week later, having been provided no update on the UN's "investigation" of clear video of its personnel stealing watches, Inner City Press asked again. From the UN's March 7 transcript:

Inner City Press; on Cyprus, you’ve said that there are two things… you or Stéphane [Dujarric] had said there are two things being investigated by the UN system, one being the chief financial officer having become a citizen of Cyprus in contravention, some say, of the Status of Forces Agreement and also the stealing of watches, the films… apparent stealing of watches by UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) peacekeepers.  So I wanted to know, since it… apparently, the only way to get it is to ask again, what is the status of those two investigations, particularly the filming of peacekeepers taking watches out of a watch store?  Has anything actually occurred since then?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  I mean, the mission’s investigating the veracity of the allegations, and it will take prompt and appropriate action if UNFICYP personnel have been found to have committed any wrongdoing.  But that is… that investigation is proceeding.  Regarding the other case, the competent UN offices are reviewing it to confirm its compatibility with applicable UN rules.

Inner City Press: another question on Cyprus.  I know that you'd said that the [Husein Moussa] thing is somehow being reviewed.  There's now a story and a video of UNFICYP [United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus] peacekeepers stealing a watch on the Turkish Cypriot side.  And they named the individuals and that the article says that there is a legal proceeding, which I assume has to be a UN… since they are UN peacekeepers.  Are you aware of this incident?

Spokesman:  Yeah, no, the Mission is very much aware of the report.  They've launched an investigation to look at the veracity of the allegations.  And, obviously, should this be found to be true, they will take prompt action against any personnel to have found [to have committed] wrongdoing.  We would expect UN personnel, whether it's Headquarters or in the field, to act with the highest level of standards and conduct.

Inner City Press. There seems to be a spate of allegations currently about the Mission.  Do you think the Mission is either worse run than other missions or… Why is this all happening now?

Spokesman:  No. We have no… I have no doubt about the excellent administration of the mission.  As to whether or not it's an orchestrated campaign or why it's happening now, that's really not for me to analyze. 

  Really. On Febuary 26, five days after UN lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric on February 24 ran out of the UN Press Briefing Room as Inner City Press asked about UN Peacekeeping (and the lack of UN due process for journalists) and declined written questions after that, we have this exclusive report.

  The CFO of UNFICYP is named Husein Moussa. Complaints about his have been lodged against him since at latest May 2016 in e-mails and attachments UN Under Secretary Generals Atul Khare, Jeffrey Feltman and Herve Ladsous, among others. Inner City Press is exclusively publishing the contents of a May 6, 2016 email leaked to it, here, and a series of attachments about Husein's Moussa's lack of academic verification, here, including in Annex 3 a 2014 "follow on the academic verification for Mr. Moussa... not yet cleared."

  Beyond violating the Status of Forces Agreement between the UN and Cyprus by obtaining Cypriot citizenship, Moussa is charged in the May 2016 email with using UN vehicles after-hours and a variety of other irregularities: "Husein Moussa, the Chief Finance and Budget Officer, continuously and freely used the UN owned vehicle throughout his assignment to UNFICYP, i.e., since 2002." (So much for Ban Ki-moon's supposed mobility policy.)

  Also that "Husein Moussa had mentioned to a friend of his that the information about his university degree he had provided in his PHP was not true... If the brushing of this case under the carpets continues, I will refer the details to the international media for another UN scandal they will publish with great pleasure."

  Now that this has happened, and the UN's two holdover spokesmen have refused to provide basic answers and even run out of the briefing room and ignore written questions, it has become an issue in the Cyprus talks, one of the few possibly fruitful UN diplomatic efforts in the past decade. Corruption and scapegoating makes today's UN even less able to be fit for purpose.

On February 27, Inner City Press again asked the UN, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on 21 February, I asked your deputy about this case that's reported in both Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot side of the Chief Financial Officer of UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) becoming a Cypriot citizen.  So I wanted to know, since I've heard nothing back, do you have an answer?   And, two, I've obtained or been… a memorandum that, in fact, these issues around Mr. Hussein Mousa were raised to Mr. [Atul] Khare and a variety of Under-Secretaries-General as far back as May 2016, including an educational problem.  And so I'm wondering, since this is now supposedly a problem in the talks, the Turkish Cypriot side has raised it, what is the answer on it?

Spokesman:  I don't know the individual involved, but I know that UNFICYP is aware of the case and the competent UN offices are reviewing it, also to confirm its compatibility with applicable UN rules.  Once the review is taken, then we'll take a look at the situation.

From the UN's February 21, 2017 transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you on Cyprus a general question and then something very specific.  One is, where does it stand on the talks?  As of at least the last reporting, it may not restart because of the request by the Turkish Cypriots that the Cyprus President denounce this new law or get it repealed.  So, want just an update on that.  And the other one has to do with it's a very specific story in the press there that the Chief Financial Officer of UNFICYP [United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus] has been recently granted citizenship of Cyprus.  And so the Turkish Cypriot side finds that strange and says, I guess he's an international civil servant but what explains, is there any policy on… on host countries of peacekeeping missions giving citizenship to internationals that are based there?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I'd have to check about that.  I'm not aware of someone taking… from UNFICYP taking Cypriot nationality, but I'll check on that.  Regarding your initial question, our envoy, Espen Barth Eide, did meet with the parties late last week to continue discussions in terms of finding a way to bring them back together for talks.  We don't have any new date for talks between the leaders to announce at this point.

   Then no answers, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric running out of the briefing room amid Inner City Press questions and refusing its written questions since, while continuing the restrictions on Inner City Press' journalistic access at the UN imposed in early 2016. UNfailing.


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