KSRelief calls for UN probe into ‘serious reports’ of Yemen aid agency corruption

Men deliver aid donations from donors, in Aslam, Hajjah, Yemen. (File/AP)
Updated 09 August 2019

KSRelief calls for UN probe into ‘serious reports’ of Yemen aid agency corruption

  • Senior KSRelief officials have demanded an urgent investigation following allegations of wrongdoing brought to their attention by a number of international news organizations
  • “While the center values its strong strategic partnerships with the UN and its agencies, there are clearly stated mechanisms in its contracts with humanitarian partners which prohibit the exploitation of aid,” a statement said

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has called for a full-scale probe into “serious reports” of corruption in UN agencies delivering vital aid to war-torn Yemen.
Senior KSRelief officials have demanded an urgent investigation following allegations of wrongdoing brought to their attention by a number of international news organizations.
A statement, issued by KSRelief’s media center, said: “The KSRelief called upon the United Nations aid agencies to review and enforce accurate, credible, neutral and transparent monitoring mechanisms for their humanitarian work in Yemen to prevent any abuse or exploitation of humanitarian aid.
“KSRelief officials were recently briefed on serious reports from some international news agencies alleging the existence of corruption in some UN agencies working in Yemen. KSRelief relies heavily on these agencies to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to Yemenis in desperate need of help.”
It added: “While the center values its strong strategic partnerships with the UN and its agencies, there are clearly stated mechanisms in its contracts with humanitarian partners which prohibit the exploitation of aid by individuals or groups working or affiliated with the UN or international organizations for any individual or other interests.”
The KSRelief statement noted that aid contracts required the immediate disclosure of any incident of irregularity or corruption, and that KSRelief had the right to participate in any investigation into such incidents.
The center was also entitled to review all partner agreements to ensure compliance with transparent monitoring and implementation procedures.
“Therefore, the KSRelief calls upon the UN and its humanitarian agencies to immediately begin transparent investigations into these incidents, and to disclose any suspicion of the involvement of their staff members in corruption, abuses or complicity with any party with regards to the allocation of humanitarian grants and aid provided by Saudi Arabia,” said the statement.
“Moreover, the KSRelief emphasizes the importance of its valuable partnerships with the UN agencies in carrying out its mission to alleviate the suffering of all in need, and calls upon the UN and its humanitarian agencies to immediately review their monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms to ensure impartiality and transparency in aid delivery.”


Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

Updated 06 August 2020

Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

  • The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party is considering whether to pull Turkey out of an international accord designed to protect women, party officials said, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.

The officials said the AKP is set to decide by next week whether to withdraw from the deal, just weeks after the vicious murder of a woman by an ex-boyfriend reignited a row over how to curb violence against women.

Despite signing the Council of Europe accord in 2011, pledging to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality, Turkey saw 474 femicides last year, double the number seen in 2011, according to a group which monitors murders of women.

Many conservatives in Turkey say the pact, ironically forged in Istanbul, encourages violence by undermining family structures. Their opponents argue that the deal, and legislation approved in its wake, need to be implemented more stringently. The row reaches not just within Erdogan’s AKP but even his own family, with two of his children involved in groups on either side of the debate about the Istanbul Convention.

The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord, a senior party official told Reuters.

“There is a small majority (in the party) who argue it is right to withdraw,” said the official, who argued however that abandoning the agreement when violence against women was on the rise would send the wrong signals.

Another AKP official argued on the contrary that the way to reduce the violence was to withdraw, adding that a decision would be reached next week. The argument crystallized last month around the brutal killing of Pinar Gultekin, 27, a student in the southwestern province of Mugla, who was strangled, burned and dumped in a barrel — the latest in a growing number of women killed by men in Turkey.

Opponents of the accord say it is part of the problem because it undermines traditional values which protect society.

“It is our religion which determines our fundamental values, our view of the family,” said the Turkish Youth Foundation, whose advisory board includes the president’s son Bilal Erdogan. It called for Turkey to withdraw from the accord.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

The Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), of which Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye is deputy chairwoman, rejects that argument. “We can no longer talk about ‘family’... in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” KADEM said.

Many conservatives are also hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul Convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, given its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Critics of the bid to withdraw from the pact say it would put Turkey further out of step with the values of the EU, which it has sought to join for decades.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

Turkey would not be the first country to move toward ditching the accord. Poland’s highest court is to scrutinize the pact after a Cabinet member said Warsaw should quit the treaty which the nationalist government considers too liberal.

Turkish women’s groups were set to protest on Wednesday to demand better implementation of the accord, taking to the streets after an online campaign in the wake of Gultekin’s killing where they shared black-and-white selfies on Instagram.

Turkey does not keep official statistics on femicide. World Health Organization data has shown 38 percent of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared to about 25 percent in Europe.

The government has taken measures such as tagging individuals known to resort to violence and creating a smartphone app for women to alert police, which has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.