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On UNRWA Corruption Inner City Press Asked UN Now ESCWA Staff Complain to Guterres

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book

UN GATE EXCLUSIVE, April 11 – 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.

 And consider ESCWA, on which Guterres has refused to answer Press questions, now receiving (along with his equally censoring cronies) this from ESCWA staff:

From: ESCWA UNRWA Staff  Data: April 11, 2023 Subject: Appeal from ESCWA Staff To: Cc:,,,,,,,,, 

Secretary-General,    We, a group of ESCWA staff, fear retaliation from the ESCWA Executive Secretary, Ms. Rola Dashti, and are sending you this email anonymously since the Ethics Office and OIOS have failed to take action and protect us.  Today, the Executive Secretary (supported by the ASG/OHR, Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, and the EOSG) has requested the processing of the resignation of Mr. Ahmad Dik, Director of Resources Management and Services Development Division, effective 14 April 2023 (in 3 days from now) which was approved personally by your ASG for OHR Ms. Martha Helena Lopez following a deal between her and the Executive Secretary of ESCWA who visited UNHQ for this purpose a few weeks ago.  An OIOS investigation has established that Mr. Ahmad Dik committed sexual harassment, misconduct, and fraud. Instead of being dismissed, he was put on special leave with full pay for a year, and now he is being rewarded with a resignation without a single disciplinary measure issued against him. He is also negotiating the payment of his three months of annual leave.  We, the ESCWA staff, are shocked that the Office of the Secretary-General and the ASG for OHR, ms. Martha Helena Lopez would approve such a course of action instead of enforcing the accountability framework and dismissing Mr. Dik. We ask that you hold your ASG, OHR, accountable for her lack of integrity and for facilitating the reward of sexual predators and thieves.  Mr. Ahmad Dik and Mr. Akmal Makhmudov (Chief, People Management Central) have been facilitators of the Executive Secretary’s wrongdoings for the past three years. Mr. Dik and the Executive Secretary have promised Mr. Makhmudov a promotion from the P-4 to the P-5 in return for him facilitating and approving the appointment of several of the ES’s relatives and the irregular promotion of several of Mr. Dik’s cronies, such as Ms. Hanadi Baltagi and Ms. Carla Ziade. The Chief of HR, Mr. Akmal Makhmudov, approved all these appointments and promotions. The ESCWA staff are all aware of this situation.   In addition, Mr. Makhmudov and Mr. Dik have previously engaged in intimidation of staff at ESCWA to prevent them from reporting misconduct to UNHQ. Several ESCWA staff have reported such misconduct, and an OIOS investigation has occurred. Unfortunately, instead of enforcing accountability, your office is doing the opposite: encouraging the wrongdoers and sexual harassers to continue their misconduct and get rewarded for it.  Mr. Dik should be dismissed and terminated for misconduct instead of being allowed to resign in compliance with the rules and regulations of the United Nations.  Mr. Makhmudov, who aided the ES and Mr. Dik, should be investigated for all his misconduct and cover-up schemes during the last three years and prevented from continuing his duties as Chief of HR.  We ask you, as Secretary-General, to remove the Executive Secretary of ESCWA from office as she has lost the trust of all ESCWA staff whom she keeps retaliating against.  This toxic culture must end now."

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

On April 3, 2023, this: "Dear Matthew,   Thank you again for continuing to be supportive of staff in pain and for showing how the UN has truly become the private farm of those who are connected to the SG and his inner circle.  Member States must know about these actions.  Very much similar to these actions are happening at other UN agencies and missions.  OIOS, Ethics offices are only used as tools to help those in power get away with their violations.  Instead of offering to give best practice examples to host governments, the UN is now allowing corrupt governments to proceed with their illegal actions.  Most host governments may be aware of those actions at the UN but keep silent because the UN also stays quiet about their violations.    Please publish this leaked email in the attached document.  This email is from a Chief of HR at ESCWA sent to the ASG for HR Martha Helena Lopez and copied to the Chef de Cabinet of Antonio Guterres, OIOS and the Ethics Office denounces the grave violations, retaliation and improper conduct of the Executive Secretary of ESCWA and yet no action is taken by the Secretary-General to hold her accountable. This is the UN of Antonio Guterres. Instead of holding the ES accountable, the ASG of HR was busy two weeks ago to assist her with her plan to allow a senior staff accused of fraud and sexual harassment of resigning instead of being dismissed."

Here is the letter, freely available on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here

Previously we wrote, and see below:

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.

 In late March, more: "Dear Matthew,   This time, the case is about ESCWA in Lebanon.  A dirty deal is about to be sealed in NY between two of the top Executives.     At ESCWA, OHRM, OIOS and the Executive Secretary of ESCWA colluded together to facilitate for a Director of Administration at D-1 level charged with sexual harassment and fraud, to stay on special leave with full pay for a year and half to allow him to reach retirement age and submit his resignation closer to retirement.  With the current special post adjustment in Beirut of almost 116 % this Director instead of being dismissed has been compensated by staying at home for two years with an approximate salary of 20,000 USD while enjoying all benefits and entitlements.  The Executive Secretary has traveled earlier this week to UNHQ to seal the deal with Office of Human Resources and to allow a discreet resignation instead of a dismissal.  This is the UN of Antonio Guterres. This is the Accountability Framework for sexual harassment and fraud. This is the justice for survivors of sexual harassment.   Your urgent attention may put an end to these illegal actions."

  Yes, this is the UN of Antonio Guterres, crying out for external accountability. 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.

  On March 3, the whistleblowers updated Inner City Press and, they hoped, the member states. But the UN system itself has become corrupted. The need is for the police and prosecutors, but the UN of Antonio Guterres - Big Tony - abuses its immunity. Here's the update:

"Dear Matthew,   We thank you for your help and your efforts to present the truth about corruptions within the UN.  WE appreciate your help.  Noone else seems to care and not even the official channels of the UN.  Corruption seems to become a norm.  We are seeking your help to get this information and the previous ones to parliaments of donor countries.  They must investigate the spending of their taxpayer money.  It is not reaching the beneficiaries.  This is incredible and cannot continue.    Following your article, Yara quit her post.  Clearly she and Brian know well that her recruitment was fraud.  However, Brian and Yara are now on "official' travel to Lebanon together before her departure at the end of March.    The case of corruption of Brian which relates to offering two different contracts with two values to the same person is still pending with the investigation department.  It is clear they want to hide it and not investigate it.  This is because a person called Niel is back to UNRWA as an investigator and he is friends with Brian Baker.  Baker continues to act as a thug with full protection of the director of Human Resources Antonino Brusa.   A new investigation of possible retaliation with Brian Baker was triggered but all indications show a prefabricated outcome to protect him.  

  On the lady who lied about her nationality.  She managed to fire or push out another lady who served UNRWA for more than 10 years and was responsible to get  a lot of funding to the Agency.  Julliet Touma discovered that one of her team members is married to her ex-boyfriends.  Touma bullied that staff member until she quit under duress.      The main question is When will donors act and demand investigations?"  When, indeed.

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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