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United Nations Probes Corruption in own Yemen Agencies

By: Shubhi Sinha

· Global Affairs

The UN is under scrutiny after an investigation conducted by the AP revealed that aid workers sent to Yemen amidst a humanitarian crisis were abusing donations of food, medical supplies, and money. UN investigators who collected evidence of fraud in Yemen’s UN office, which included external drives from the World Health Organization staff, were bombarded by armed militiamen and Houthi rebels and left without the evidence. The Sanaa airport incident amplified how corruption ran rampant in the trying bureaucratic institutions set amid Yemen’s five-year civil war. The AP obtained UN investigative documents and interviewed eight aid workers, with six claiming that WHO’s Yemen office was riddled with corruption and nepotism. In addition, dozens of UN aid workers deployed to manage the wartime crisis are being accused of helping combatants on all sides to secure personal rewards, including billions of dollars in donations for the country. The accusations also include how aid workers allowed a senior Houthi rebel to access a UN vehicle, and have been pressured by Houthi rebels to infiltrate the UN offices further.

WHO auditors are currently investigating allegations by examining dozens of suspicious contracts, improper paperwork, and staffers bank accounts to tackle the underbelly of the corrupt network. In addition from WHO, UNICEF is another UN agency probing allegations of wrongdoing by staffers in Yemen. Yemeni activists are welcoming the investigation by UN agencies, but remain persistent about the millions of dollars that have been diverted and cannot be retained as aid. Activists have been instead pushing for transparency through an online campaign called “Where Is The Money” to demand that the UN provide financial reports regarding donations into Yemen since 2015 and declassify their investigation. Mr. Al Shaddadi, the Secretary of Yemen’s relief committee, criticized the inaction of UN agencies, claiming how they are “praising the Houthi (rebels)” who are knowingly using humanitarian aid as a tool of war.

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