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UN lifts lid on incompetent, abusive and corrupt peacekeepers


Times

Apr 19, 2013 | Sapa-AP

The chief procurement officer in the UN peace-building mission in Sierra Leone signed three contracts worth more than $2.7 million in total, way in excess of his $50 000 per contract limit.

UN Flag. File photo.

Photograph by: Ralph Orlowski/ Getty Images

A staff member in the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo used a UN vehicle without authorisation to transport sacks of a precious mineral into a neighbouring country. The UN mission in Liberia was unable to account for 70 vehicles.

Those were just three of the examples fraud, bribery, financial and procurement misconduct and incompetence cited in the annual report of the UN’s internal watchdog, which circulated Thursday.

Since the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq that blew up after the US-led invasion, the UN has sought to strengthen oversight of its peacekeeping, which is its largest operation, both in personnel and cost. The UN has more than 100 000 peacekeepers.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services completed 42 investigations of sexual exploitation, abuse involving minors or rape.

In the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, for example, OIOS said it received a report that one or more police officers had sexually exploited a 14-year-old boy. An investigation produced clear evidence, including a handwritten admission by the officer, who was dismissed and sentenced to one year of “rigorous imprisonment,” the report said.

While the officer was punished, OIOS expressed regret “that the sexual exploitation and abuse of the boy had likely occurred over a three-year period but had remained undetected until 2012.”

The report did not specify the outcome of all of the 42 sexual abuse cases.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse remains a significant area of concern, with the greatest number of such offences being committed by uniformed personnel,” there report said.

The office urged stepped up efforts to prevent sexual abuse, saying the continuing allegations “reflect a failure to create and sustain an environment that deters such behaviour.”

Several cases of sexual abuse were also reported in Congo.

Also in that African country, the OIOS said local authorities arrested a staff member transporting sacks of precious minerals on suspicion of mineral trafficking. He was convicted of rebellion, attempted fraud, illegal ownership and transport of minerals, and is currently in prison.

Elsewhere, OIOS said the UN mission in Afghanistan spent about $42 000 to airlift obsolete and damaged equipment from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif to the capital Kabul from January 2010 to December 2011 when it could have been transported by road for about $1 400.

The UN mission in Iraq overpaid two contractors a total of $632 992, it said, and at the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, a staff member with expired procurement authority approved 87 purchase orders valued at $29.13 million.

In impoverished Liberia, which is emerging from a long civil war, OIOS said the UN peacekeeping mission was unable to account for 70 vehicles “owing to the lack of adequate and effective procedures to safeguard assets.”

It said 20 of 64 closed circuit televisions installed after the theft of four vehicles weren’t operational and data was only stored for a week. It said 12 of 21 heavy vehicles had been in the workshop for over a year, and two others for over three years, because of the lack of spare parts.

OIOS said only two of 25 “quick impact” projects supported by the Liberian mission and designed to provide jobs and spur the economy were completed in the three-month time frame. Thirteen took up to three years to finish, OIOS said.

The OIOS also criticised the UN peace building mission’s management in Sierra Leone, which is trying to rebuild after the end of a civil war in 2002.

The report said the chief procurement officer in Sierra Leone signed off on contracts of $814 834, $1 815 652 and $105 000, even though he only had authority to sign for $50 000. The report did not say what happened to the officer.

The OIOS also said the Sierra Leone mission awarded six contracts without competition to vendors that didn’t meet UN requirements.

When the UN wrapped up its mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, OIOS said $1.1 million worth of equipment and material that was supposed to be shipped to other missions was kept in the port at Douala, Cameroon from July 2011 until July 2012 by the freight contractor.

“As a result, assets depreciated and may have deteriorated in storage if conditions were not optimal,” it said.

Kenya among Africa’s top spenders on military


Business Daily

November 3rd, 2012

Kenya has been ranked among the countries with the highest defence budgets in Africa, thanks to two decades of a steady increase in military expenditure.

It is ranked seventh behind Algeria, South Africa, Angola, Libya, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco, having surpassed Tunisia last year.

The country spent Sh45.8 billion last year down from Sh47.7 billion the previous year but remained by far the highest in East Africa relative to its GDP, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), an independent research organisation.

Algeria had the highest spending on defence at Sh736 billion followed by South Africa with Sh434 billion and Angola at Sh309 billion.

Analysts say Kenya has been spending in a bid to modernise its military hardware. “There has been serious modernisation of the country’s defence systems, which started during the Anglo Leasing scandal,” said Simiyu Werunga, the director of the African Centre for Security and Strategic Studies.

Having ordered eight warships in 2010, Kenya last year sought 67 armoured vehicles— Puma M-26 —of which 37 have so far been delivered at a cost of Sh1.6 billion from South Africa. Kenya also ordered 67 US-made heavy truck diesel engines (B5.9) from South Africa with 37 delivered but at an undisclosed cost. One engine is estimated to cost about Sh500,000, which brings the total to about Sh33 million.

Piracy

Kenya is faced with problems of terrorism, attacks from Oromo militias in Ethiopia and piracy in the Indian Ocean that have exposed the country’s military inadequacies.

“Due to the military “achievement” of KDF against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, Kenya would most likely want to obtain a greater influence on the political and administrative future of the region,” said Sipri in a email to the Business Daily.

Kenya is said to have used recent imports of armoured vehicles from South Africa, helicopters from China (Z-9) and Russia (Mi-17) and refurbished second hand F-5E combat aircraft from Jordan and new M-4 rifles from the USA in Somalia.

But the data does not fully capture the country’s military expedition into Somali which started in October 2011 and is expected to increase the 2012 budget by at least Sh12 billion.

It also received one ex-French P-400 patrol aircraft at an undisclosed price.

The data shows that Kenya’s spending on defence was far much higher than that of Uganda and Tanzania whose budget stood at Sh21 billion and Sh22 billion (local currency) respectively.

Kenya’s military spending as a ratio of GDP has increased for the last 10 years from 1.3 per cent in the year 2000 to 1.9 per cent in 2008. Relatively Kenya rivals unstable democracies like Chad and Central Africa Republic and spends higher than South Africa whose defence budget is 1.3 per cent of the national income.

Uganda however depicted the largest number of weapons imported annually in recent years in the region.

“Overall amongst the three countries Ugandan procurement has been the most extensive and involves the most modern major arms,” said Peter Wezeman senior researcher at Sipri.

Uganda last year bought an unspecified number of anti-ship missiles, guided bombs and short range air- to- air missiles from Russia. It is also expecting the delivery of 150 ex-Ukranian surface to air missiles having received an equal number in 2010.

Uganda has been battling an internal conflict against the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), conflicts in neighbouring DRC and South Sudan and has a substantial number of troops in Somalia. “However, Uganda’s main arms procurement in the past few years— six advanced Su-30Mk combat aircraft from Russia delivered in 2011-2012, has been questionable in the light of Ugandan needs and resources,” says Sipri.

Tanzania imported 30 tanks, diesel truck engines from China and 10 armoured personnel carriers last year alone.

The budget of the Kenya Defence Forces is set to be exposed to scrutiny if a proposed Bill is passed into law. The Bill requires KDF to submit its annual financial reports to Parliament and the President.

rotini@ke.nationmedia.com

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