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Kaag Re-Pledges Disclosure of Chem Weapons Funds, Still No Answer on Staffer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 6, updated below -- After Sigrid Kaag briefed the UN Security Council about Syria chemical weapons on February 6, Inner City Press asked her about both delay and transparency, as it did back on January 8.

  Kaag said it had not been possible to verify or disprove what the Syrian government said, that two weapons storage sites had been attacked last month. Video here, and embedded below.

   Inner City Press asked, while the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons put online a January 24 press release about Canada donated 10 million CAD, there is still no overall listing of who has put what into the trust fund.

  Kaag said, "I knew you'd ask that," and said it should go online soon. For now we note that on the OPCW's web site there is a page called "Bulletins on Syria" with six entries from October 2013, and nothing since.

   Kaag, to her credit, takes a lot of questions, even some she knows she does not (yet) have the answer to.

And, update: a chart on each trust fund is now online here: we note for example that Japan has pledged to each, but has yet to pay.

   On delay, US Ambassador Samantha Power was asked of Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin saying yesterday that the US ship to destroy the weapons is not even in the Mediterranean yet. She said she would "set the record straight" that this had nothing to do with Syria's delay, and that the ship will be there soon.

  Only two questions were allowed to Ambassador Power, from Al Jazeera then from Al Hurra, on whose Broadcasting Board of Governors US Secretary of State John Kerry sits.

  Power could not be asked, and the US Mission to the UN has not answered the Press' two question, about the Free Syrian Army recruiting and using child soldiers, as set forth in the UN's Children and Armed Conflict report, and how this jibes with the US 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act.

  That question, as well as the one below still stonewalled by the UN, will have to be answered.

  Inner City Press continues to await from the UN 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 2013, has provided no answers at all. And there are more questions ready, particularly in light of a motion for disclosure to force the SG represented by ALS to give us access to the reports of OIOS, the Ombudsman Office and CDU that has been filed in the UN Dispute Tribunal.

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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