Investigation of UNDP and Diamond Smuggling, Sri Lanka was UNOPS not the World Food Program
Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, May
11 -- As in the UN's basement, moves were afoot to elect Zimbabwe as the chair
of the Commission on Sustainable Development, in the briefing room at noon,
Inner City Press asked about the Zimbabwe
operations of the UN Development Program:
Inner City Press:
report from Zimbabwe
that the Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Larry Johnson, has
written a letter confirming that thereís an investigation into UNDP being
involved in the smuggling of diamonds from Zimbabwe. Itís a Secretariat
question -- because Larry Johnson -- he was written to, or the Office of Legal
Affairs was, and he wrote back and said thereís an investigation and told people
to calm down. This is what the Zimbabwean press reports. So Iíd like to know:
one, if it's true; and, two, what the Secretariatís role will be in determining
the facts of the case.
If there is an investigation, the Secretariat wonít be directly involved. But,
I can verify the facts that you mentioned.
The UN's day ended on Friday still with
no answer; the week came to a close with UNDP not having responded in five days
to questions posed to their Communications Office at the beginning of the week.
By contrast, the World Food Program answered questions posed Thursday by Inner
City Press on Friday. Just two examples, India and Sri Lanka, from WFP's Asia
spokesperson Paul Risley:
#1. Regarding your first question, I am
still awaiting a response from the WFP Representative in New Delhi regarding the
Indian newspaper article and its
allegations that you
This newspaper article seems
to allege that several private companies supplying wheat at government-set
prices to WFP India's food production factories (where WFP produces biscuits for
Indian schoolchildren) have engaged in unauthorized selling of wheat that had
been set aside for WFP purchase; I will ask my colleagues in New Delhi if they
are aware of these allegations, and what impact these alleged actions would or
have had on WFP's ability to provide food to our Indian beneficiaries.
#2. Regarding the
Sri Lanka article,
WFP Country Director Jeff Taft-Dick was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in his
capacity as the acting United Nations Country Team Resident Coordinator at the
time, a summons unrelated to WFP operations in Sri Lanka. The two "UN staff
arrested by the LTTE" were national employees of UNOPS working in LTTE-controlled
And yet UNOPS, the UN Office of Project
Services, has said nothing about these detentions. Then again,
UNOPS while spending a
billion dollars a year does not even have a press spokesman...
Back at the
the Zimbabwe UNDP question was followed-up, video
to follow-up on what Matthew was just raising about this diamond scandal, or
whatever, investigation I should say. Whoís heading the investigation? Is it
OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] or is it an internal UNDP thing?
I have to check on who is doing that.
who called for it in the first place? Is the Secretary-General getting
If itís concerning -- I can check for you -- but if itís concerning diamonds
itís most probably come from -- as you know, the Security Council has taken
measures about diamonds, so we have to find out where it came from. Iíll find
out for you.
a little more of the nature and the terms of reference...
I donít know at this point. As I said to Matthew, I will be looking into this
for you and find out.
Maybe that will be next week. There is much to report and follow-up
on, including from the above the question of wheat sales and WFP in India. Click
here for Inner City
Press' story about Zimbabwe's election as chair of the UN Commission on
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