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On UNRWA Corruption Inner City Press Asks UN and Lazzarini With Photo of Car No Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book

UN GATE EXCLUSIVE, Feb 7 – How corrupt is today's United Nations, under Antonio Guterres?

Well, consider UNRWA, under Philippe Lazzarini. Inner City Press for two days has asked Guterres' spokespeople Stephane Dujarric and Melissa Fleming -- the second day cc-ing Lazzarini himself - about complaints and evidence that whistleblowers have provided to Inner City Press about what is formally knowns as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

  No response at all, while Dujarric laughs and services state media and his partners in censorship, with whom he worked to target and now ban Inner City Press.

So here's some of the story, with more to come:

Dear Matthew Russell Lee / Inner City Press: We are a group of UNRWA staff who are witnessing daily violations and abuses and are unable to do anything about it due to bullying and fear of retaliation by the senior management.   We have several documented cases of abuse and fraud by senior directors who are protected by the commissioner general.    We saw your reporting and we are asking if you are interested to write about such cases in order for us to disseminate wider once these issues are reported.  

Examples:    1- A Senior Director was recruited at D1 level when he failed the P5 interview 10 months earlier.  This was a direct intervention of Christian Saunders when he was acting USG of the Agency.  

 2- That same Senior Director who is a former colleague and a friend of the director of HR bullies staff.  When staff report those actions to the ethics office and to the internal audit department, the complaints are ignored.  

3- That same Director announces a vacancy in his department and interviews candidates.  He selects his preferred candidate and makes her an offer.   When she refuses the fees, he decides to cancel the vacancy and lies to the HR department saying, no candidate was found suitable.  

 45 days later, he announces the same vacancy at 300% increase of the initial salary.  When HR asks him to interview candidates, he says, no because he had selected a candidate from previous interviews.   Head of HR because of his close friendship with the director (formerly colleagues at UNICEF), he agrees.  WE have copies of the two contracts with same ToRs but different amounts of fees.

  4- Tribunal judgment calls for accountability with two persons (Director of HR and deputy director of Syria field office) because they knowingly offered a contract to an unqualified candidate who is proven to have false information on her PhP/CV.   Nothing happens. 

 5- A staff member seeks protection against retaliation from the ethics office.  That request is ignored for months.  When the staff members provide additional concrete solid evidence of harassment, he is granted protection.   The evidence is very strong and qualifies for a dismissal.  The case is forwarded for investigation without putting the staff on any preventive action.  Harassment and bullying continues knowing that the investigation will lead to nothing. 

  6- Report of two independent consultants show how senior management is bullying staff with a strong report.  The report is hidden and nothing happens.   

 On the morning of February 6, Inner City Press sent the above for comment to dozens of UN officials, and Malta's Mission to the UN under Vanessa Frazier, as UNSC president for February. No answer at all. Now this was sent, nothing, so publishing:  

   UNRWA Snr. Management ignores accountability.  Staff complaints to ethics and DIOS are ignored selectively.  

  UNRWA management under Phillipe Lazzarrini and his team promised donors to work with transparency and accountability.  In reality, what is happening is the exact opposite.  Management assessment report prepared by two individual independent consultants showed several serious violations and mismanagement.  The report was requested and paid by the German government via GIZ.

 After several attempts by Lazzarini to intervene with the findings, the report was hidden.  Instead of handling the serious issues, he decided to call for a team building exercise which included cooking class for his Snr Directors.  Directors who do not agree with him and his deputy are marginalized and eventually pushed out.  Those who maintain bad relations with the communities and staff are promoted.  An example of this promotion is the most recent appointment of Dorothe Kalaus (Germany) to the director of Lebanon field. 

  Briefly before the arrival of Lazzarini, Christian Saunders was appointed by his friend the Secretary General as acting Commissioner-General for UNRWA.  During his acting period, he added more than $100 million annually as unjustified additional costs.  This is all in the middle of a serious funding crisis which was threatening the existence of the Agency.   In addition, Saunders intervened in appointments of several of his friends.

  Brian Baker, a national of the UK and a former UNICEF staff member, was moved out of Gaza a few years back for his problems with the community.  He was interviewed in Jan 2019 for a P5 position of chief security.  The Panel found him unsuitable and opted for another candidate of an Egyptian nationality. 

Less than a year later, Brian was appointed as a Director of Security and Risk management with a fraud process orchestrated by the Director of Human Resources Antonino Brusa who is a friend and a former colleague of Brian Baker.    The process was a fraud.  The head of the Panel was a UNICEF staff and the then direct supervisor of Brian Baker.  He was invited  by Brusa to chair a panel.   There was never in the history of the Agency such an action.  Panel members disagreed with the chair (Brian's supervisor at UNICEF) and did not select Brian.  Antonino Brusa informed the panel members that lets send the case to the acting commissioner-general for his decision.  Saunders overruled the panel members' views and approved the appointment of Brian Baker at D1 level.

  That same person did not qualify for a P5 with the same agency a few months earlier.    Baker within months of his appointment, fired the Egyptian P5 person who competed against him.  With fabricated accusations and in close coordination with friend Antonino Brusa, the investigation took a couple of weeks for a final decision to be approved with dismissal. 

This way, Baker got rid of his first target.  A few months later, Brian Baker seeks a recruitment of a local consultant and he publishes an announcement for that position.  He selected his preferred candidate and offered her a contract valued at approximately usd 1300 monthly.  She turned down the contract.  Brian writes to HR and informs them that he intends to cancel the vacancy instead of proceeding with the second selected candidate.  A couple of weeks later, he replaced the vacancy with an international consultancy with a monthly fee of USD 5000.  After he announces the vacancy, HR asks him to shortlist candidates.

 Brian strongly refuses to do so and gets the approval of the Director of HR to proceed with the recruitment of the same selected candidate of the local consultant.  Two contracts are attached.  Same candidate, same ToRs, different value with more than 300% increase.    The Director of HR intentionally ignores those violations and approves whatever his friend wants.    Baker continues with his actions without any questioning by any of the Snr. Management people.  He then brings another friend from UNICEF Yara Dababneh on another consultancy contract.

 Less than a year later Yara receives a P4 contract with external relations with the help of Brian.   The Director of HR brings in another UNICEF former colleague in a fabricated pre-planned process.  Julliette Touma who holds a fake Palestinian nationality ( in reality she holds an Israeli citizenship but she was able to receive a Palestinian travel document and not a nationality).  She records her nationality with UNRWA as Palestinian and she was appointed at D1 level. 

Ms.Touma was originally assisted by her friend from OCHA ( David Shearer who was DSRSG for UNAMI Iraq) to become an international staff of the UN at P2 level in yet another fake process. He wanted her to move from GS6 position directly to P4 but then agreed to a P2 due to her lack of experience.   After serving UNICEF regional office in Jordan, she was asked to seek another opportunity outside of UNICEF.  Her friend Brusa immediately picked her up to become the spokesperson and the director of communications for UNRWA.    In Syria field office, UNRWA tribunal issued a judgment related to violation and abuse of power.

 A Selection of a senior staff was found incorrect by the Advisory Committee of HR.  While digging into the qualifications, they discovered that the selected staff provided false information on her CV.  The director of HR, Brusa lets the case rest for a couple of months and then agreed with the deputy director of Syria office to offer that same candidate a contract.  One of the non selected staff appealed the decision to the tribunal and won her case.  The judgment calls for accountability for those who violated the process.

  Lazzarini does nothing to this date and the selected staff remains at her new job in Syria.   Back to Baker. A couple of months ago following one of his staff providing a witness statement to the Tribunal, he started bullying and harassing him.

 Brian also informed the witness staff thast his position was abolished.  When the staff reported his case to the ethics office, the case was delayed and ignored.  The staff provided additional very serious and concrete evidence to the ethics office.  The case was immediately forwarded to the investigation after the ethics office concluded a prima facie case of retaliation.  The decision of abolishing the post was put on hold.

  Brian and because of his untouched protection by the Director of HR and by the Commissioner-General, remains working at his position.  Other less serious cases are immediately put on administrative leave pending the outcome of investigation.  The evidence provided to the ethics office included proof of bullying, retaliation and harassment,  It also included Brian's comments about the uselessness of ethics and DIOS in his opinion. 

  Lazzarini, upon his arrival, assigned an official UNRWA vehicle for more than a year to be used by his wife.  The car gets hit by his wife and repaired at the expense of the Agency when the accident was reported as official.

That is today's UN, with Inner City Press still banned from entering to ask these questions in person, and its December 5, 2022 appeal not even responded to. Totally corrupt.


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