WHO says it has ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption in Yemen

Women are treated for suspected cholera infection at Al-Sabeen hospital, in Sanaa. Some of the UN aid workers sent in to Yemen have been accused of enriching themselves. (AP/File photo)
Updated 08 August 2019

WHO says it has ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption in Yemen

  • Some UN staffers have been accused of fraud in relation to the massive humanitarian aid program in Yemen
  • WHO said this week it has an on-going investigation into its Yemen office

CAIRO: The World Health Organization says it follows “a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of corruption” amid calls for greater transparency following an Associated Press report on fraud and mismanagement marring some UN operations in the country.
WHO issued a statement Wednesday saying it has an on-going investigation into its Yemen office after an internal audit last year found that controls over administration and finances there were “unsatisfactory.”
The audit, it said, identified “conflicts of interest” and “suspected wrongdoing” among staffers in Yemen.
WHO said it “moved quickly to address audit recommendations,” appointing a new country director, hiring more experienced staff and reforming the office structure to increase accountability.
In a report Monday, the AP revealed investigations by the WHO and UNICEF into operations in Yemen. According to internal documents and interviews with current and former aid officials, some UN staffers had been involved in fraud or mismanagement profiting off the massive humanitarian aid program aimed at keeping Yemenis alive amid the country’s destructive civil war.
When asked about the AP story Tuesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said WHO is “taking these allegations seriously” and that “all allegations of misuse of aid need to be investigated.”
The information minister in Yemen’s internationally recognized government called on the UN to be transparent in its investigations. The government controls southern Yemen, battling with rebels known as Houthis who hold the north.
“We urge the UN to declassify these investigations ... to reveal the outcomes” to the Yemeni people, Moammar Al-Iryani wrote in a tweet this week.
A major funder of humanitarian aid to Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, also urged the UN to review its monitoring systems and “share detailed reports on its financial and accounting measures” with donors.
Saudi Arabia has sent millions of dollars to help fund aid operations by the UN and other agencies in Yemen.
The kingdom is also a member of a coalition backing the government and seeking to push back the Houthi rebels, who are allied to Iran.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

FASTFACT

The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.