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As Ban Pitches UN Afghan Mission, "Erratic" Cuts by Scheer UNexplained

By Matthew Russell Lee, 8th in Series

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, the level of dysfunction in the UN Mission in Afghanistan has been brought to the fore in the course of Inner City Press' exclusive series on outright corruption in the UN Development Program's Law & Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan.

  On that, we are today publishing another in our series of internal LOTFA audits, this time Observation #4, that the Afghani "Ministry of Interior has maintained manual general ledger system for recording the transactions relating to payments of police forces salaries, allowances and food costs" - click here to view.

  As to the UN itself, before the Fourth of July holiday -- not celebrated to our knowledge in Kabul -- Inner City Press asked about how UNAMA and its chief of mission support are going about finding the $45 million in cost savings required:

Inner City Press: One question I wanted to ask you because it's about UNAMA and Afghanistan. Maybe you’ll answer this or maybe you can get an answer to it. I've heard that UNAMA and UNAMI were both ordered to cut their staff costs by 15 per cent, I was told. There was a recent video conference with them. I was told that UNAMA has decided to cut their international support staff by only 5 per cent, but their political staff, mostly Afghan, by 20 per cent. There seems people working in UNAMA — whistleblowers of the type that have come forward with a law-and-order trust fund for Afghanistan material — said that it’s hurting the UNAMA presence in the country. And I wanted to know, since it seems like a big cut, can you confirm whether it’s DPA or DPKO, has imposed a 15 per cent cut on both missions and that this is cut, as the whistleblowers in Afghanistan say, is being imposed on UNAMA, and what’s the rationale for imposing it disproportionately on political officers?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I would need to check on the precise nature of any cuts that there might be. But it’s self-evident that cuts that are being made across the UN system are not without pain. But I think we need to look into the details and then come back to you on that.

  While Nesirky has yet to come back with information -- when he does, we will report it -- others have stepped forward to describe the Video Teleconference Call or VTC that Inner City Press reported on from the UNAMA side.

  In New York, it took place in the Department of Field Support conference room. UNAMI, represented by SRSG Kobbler, was prepared, how to cut $30 million including less need for security in Erbil. The UNAMA presentation, on the other hand, was described as a fiasco. Jan Kubis wasn't on the VTC; nor was the real power behind the throne, Stephani Scheer.

  Since Inner City Press began reporting on UNAMA, more and more information has come in from whistleblowers, particularly about Ms. Scheer. She is described as erratic, as shifting her friends to Kuwait to pretend these were cuts while punishing other staff.

  Notably, she worked in the UN's Iraq Oil for Food Program for Benon Sevan, of whom even Mark Malloch Brown writes of

"traced payments to Sevan from a beneficiary of oil contracts for whom Sevan had lobbied in Baghdad. He was indicted on that basis [and] is now hiding from American justice in Cyprus."

  And Stephani Scheer is running the show for UNAMA in Afghanistan. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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