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Kaag Pledges Transparency for Chem Weapons Funds, No Answer on Staffer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 8 -- After Sigrid Kaag briefed the UN Security Council about Syria chemical weapons on January 8, Inner City Press asked her about both delay and transparency.

  On the former she cited security, snow and even a customs strike. On when the OPCW will make financial disclosure about its trust fund, she said soon, on the website, and agreed that transparency is important.

  Minutes later Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq the same question about the UN's trust fund. He said that the UN will be reporting to its member states.

  What about the public? He said to watch the Joint Mission's website.

  While we do, Inner City Press continues to await a response to repeated questions submitted about the Joint Mission's chief of staff Abdullah Fadil. Sources say he has asked UNTSO, where he worked before the Joint Mission, to respond in some way.

  But the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General, which has had these questions in writing since before Christmas, has provided no answers at all. And there are more questions ready.

For now, consider the issued raised, below and in this unresponded to follow up question:

"As a follow up to the not-answered [earlier question, see below], please confirm or deny that Michael Antoine has also transferred from UNTSO to the UN-OPCW joint mission on chemical weapons in Syria, but that he is in Cyprus; please explain his duties to jump from FS4 to FS6; please describe the Joint Mission's interview and recruitment practices."

  This question has not been answered; a question Inner City Press submitted about the tension between South Korea and Japan, including in South Sudan, caused by Japan's prime minister's visit to a shrine for the country's World War Two dead was answered in a statement apparently given to other media, on a regional or political basis, 13 hours before today's "first" Note to Correspondents. The Free UN Coalition for Access is challenging these practices.

   Previously Inner City Press had asked, without answer:

"Please confirm or deny that Abdullah Fadil is with the UN-OPCW joint mission on chemical weapons in Syria, that while at UNTSO he managed to have Ministry of Foreign Affairs cards from both Israel and Lebanon, and separately that he is under investigation by OIOS and/or other UN bodies for recruitment irregularities and SEA."

  Five days later the question has not even been acknowledged, much less answered. Questions submitted and re-submitted to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's top two spokespeople on the morning of December 21, about civilians at risk, have not been acknowledged.

  By stonewalling, and by the practices described in the below, which are evident elsewhere and to the very top of the UN system, the UN credibility is being damaged. At least questions should be answered.

  While we have more, here's from the underlying whistleblower's initial complaint giving rise to the question, about the current chief of staff of UN - OPCW mission for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Syria:

I am an avid reader of the Inner City Press. My numerous Missions with the UN can confirm what your many articles state: rampant corruption, nepotism, and recruitment manipulation at all levels in the UN. Sadly, this conduct is only increasing. Within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) it is not "what you know" but itís "who you know." There is an absolute absence of accountability. It is often said that nobody gets fired unless you are a whistle-blower or suspected of bringing the UN into disrepute by exposing corruption; usually after becoming exasperated trying to deal with it via due process. After speaking to many staff members, I am compelled to report a matter that concerns me. The mission/UN is failing to take action and I feel that it is time that external scrutiny is required.

1. Mr. Abdullah Fadil, a Somali (now Canadian), is a member of the UNTSO Mission in Israel. He is an international staff Member at the level of Director (D1) and occupies the position of Chief Mission Support (CMS). He is the most senior civilian in the mission. As CMS he has control over all administrative functions, most notably, finance, procurement, and recruitment. He previously held similar positions in Kosovo, Khartoum and Darfur... He is well known in the DPKO system and there are numerous allegations against Mr. Fadil presently being investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS), Ombudsman Office, and the Complaints and Discipline Unite (CDU). These allegations range from sexual harassment, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), to manipulating recruiting to allow friends (internally) and externally to jump recruitment rosters. This includes managing recruiting panels and overseeing the selection process.

All UNTSO staff recruited in the UNTSO Mission in the three years he has been the CMS are either former girlfriends, absolute loyal friends from former missions, or family members. The method of control is to provide the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) with his handpicked short list along with a verbal directive as to whom he wished to be selected. This practice tended to exclude competent staff as he put loyalty to himself as the primary selection criteria. This allowed him to have a foundation of very loyal staff that he could rely upon. Senior managers within the mission could not recruit competent staff. Managers who voiced their concern were either moved sideways or resigned.

4. Due to these many complaints he was asked to take a temporary assignment to Syria (OPCW) to reduce the level of discontent in the mission.

5. The allegations include obstructing an investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) into the fraudulent use of tax free PX fuel cards (Israel) by national staff and some international staff. His obstruction included briefing the suspect prior to being interviewed by investigators. His intent was cover up the extent of the fraud by International Staff (friends) who had aided and abetted the fraud. This allegation also included misuse of duty free products (alcohol) to pay rent in disputed territories.

6. A most egregious act that must be investigated, and which should result in his termination from the UN, is the fraudulent acquisition of a MOFA card from the government of Lebanon. The circumstances are that Mr. Fadil is located in Jerusalem and holds a valid Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) card which grants him residency in Israel. To qualify for this status, one is required to reside/hold residency in that country due to oneís UN official status. The process requires that one file a signed request to the Host Government for a MOFA card as an official of the United Nations. The signature verifies the accuracy of the document and information provided. One must include an address, UN letter of appointment, and photographs. The MOFA card grants certain privileges and benefits as a member of the UN.

In addition to the Israeli MOFA card provided to Mr. Fadil by the Israeli Government, he was recently found to have a MOFA card from the Government of Lebanon. Inquiries confirm that two years ago he fraudulently applied for MOFA status in Lebanon stating that he was a resident in Lebanon. This is not true as he and family reside in Jerusalem. He has also misrepresented himself to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Fadil has been using that same Lebanese MOFA card in Lebanon to obtain benefits. In short, he has two MOFA cards; one for Israel and one Lebanon. When this fraud becomes known to the governments of Israel and Lebanon they might apply a high level of scrutiny to new legitimate applicants. This could have a significant impact on UN staff members and UNMOs applying for MOFA cards within Lebanon and Israel. He has placed us all at disadvantage by giving both governments cause to delay and further investigate applications. He has placed the UN in a difficult position. Hence the cover up.

We will have more. There are a number of other Press questions long-pending in Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesperson, never responded to, stonewalled. Watch this site.


 

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