Amid UNSG Guterres Ashgabat Junket, Complaints of Corruption, Fear of Retaliation in UNDP

Amid UNSG Guterres Ashgabat Junket, Complaints of Corruption, Fear of Retaliation in UNDP

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, June 13 – While some claim there have been substantive changes in the UN Secretariat and UN Development Program, these are by no means clear. In 2014 and again in 2016 Inner City Press reported on UNDP, and now in 2017 staff there, fearing retaliation, have written: “Secretary General, UNDP staff do not believe that competency plays a role in the hiring process. Managers select their staff based on color, nationality, and nepotism, and not on educational qualifications or work experience. As you may already know, nearly $1,000,000 (USD) has been spent on the UNDP’s Structural Review process. In 2014, these funds were channeled to consultants and other activities, yet UNDP’s leadership never provided a cost benefit analysis. We feel duty-bound to inform you of this which require your immediate attention: 1. Ms. Sallem Berhane joined UNDP RBA in 2013 as an Individual Contract (IC) holder without ever participating in a competitive selection process. It must be noted that Ms. Berhane is the daughter of a very powerful Ethiopian Deputy Prim- Minister Berhane Gebre-Kristos.

The Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA) Mr. Tegegnework Gettu, has a very close relationship with. Mr.Gebre-Kristos gave instruction to his staff to secure her recruitment. During Structural Review, it was necessary to move Ms. Berhane to BPPS, following her supervisor Mr. Pedro Conceicao. In late 2016, again with no competitive recruitment process, Ms. Berhane was moved from BPPS to HQ/EXO with the same IC contract status. Then, in 2017, she was offered P3 Fixed Term contract without due process, as no vacancy was advertised and none of the organizational recruitment processes were observed. Reasonably, for bringing this information to light, staff-members are afraid of retaliatory discrimination from the Associate Administrator. He has rendered a service to his Government Official (who has supported his career advancement) and treats inquiries with a lack of respect, often responding with the attitude of a bully.” What will Guterres do? His top two spokesman not only didn’t answer anyof Inner City Press’ formal questions on June 12 – they didn’t even provide the requested confirmation of receipt. This is today’s UN.

Inner City Press in 2014 reported on then-head of the UN Department of General Assembly and Conference Management  Tegegnework Gettu calling female critics “emotional,” here, whistleblowers afraid of Gallach-like retaliation tell Inner City Press that Gettu has continued his “shenanigans” at UNDP.

 

Inner City Press has exclusively publishedinternal UNDP (“Atlas”) travel vouchers leaked to it by scared whistleblowers, reflecting among other things Gettu coincidentally putting in for $11,000 travel expenses. See documents here, on Scribd. We’ll have more on this.

At UNDP, Gettu’s $11,000 Trip Documents Leaked to Inner City Press, He Told Staff, I’m Warning You by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Previously, multiple sources informed Inner City Press that Gettu told complaining staff “I am warning you,” cutting them off while saying We are all equal, including me.” Really? Leaked audio exclusively put online by Inner City Press here.

What will incoming Secretary General Antonio Guterres do?

As in The Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved on December 1 to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there was again a deafening silence from the UN and its “communications” chief Cristina Gallach.

On January 5, Inner City Press asked holdover UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here,UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: about Gambia.  The electoral commission chief has gone into hiding, and the Government has closed three radio stations, one of which reopened with no news on it.  So what’s the status of the UN’s work on this holdover presidency?

Spokesman:  We’ve had… various UN officials have had contacts with parties involved, and obviously we would like to see and are very keen to see a peaceful resolution to the current crisis in the Gambia and, notably, the… for the President… the outgoing President to leave way for the President that was just elected.

As of January 7, new Secretary General Antonio Guterres had yet to speak publicly about Jammeh and Gambia. Meanwhile the US issued a travel warning:

“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to The Gambia because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future.  On January 7, 2017, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members and authorized the departure of all employees who need to accompany those individuals from the country.

The security situation in The Gambia remains uncertain following December 1, 2016 presidential elections.  On January 10, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the current president’s petition contesting the election results, which is a potential flashpoint that could lead to civil unrest.  The sitting government has begun taking restrictive measures, which include shutting down and restricting radio stations, and making politically motivated arrests.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated it may intervene if the president does not step down by January 18.

U.S. citizens should consider departing on commercial flights and other transportation options now, as airports and ferry terminals may close unexpectedly in the event of unrest.  All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.  U.S. citizens should ensure that travel documents (passports and visas) are valid and up-to-date.  Consular services, already limited throughout the country due to very poor transportation infrastructure and security conditions, may be further limited, including in Banjul itself.

U.S. citizens who decide to remain in The Gambia should prepare for the possible deterioration of security.”

We’ll have more on this.

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