February 11th, 2008 11:38 EST
U.N. wasted millions in Sudan, auditors discover
Washington, DC -- Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted in peacekeeping operations in Sudan over the past three years according to a new report issued by the U.N. Office for International Oversight Services. The audit slams the U.N. for having poor internal control mechanisms and for tolerating mismanagement in the war-torn country.
U.N. auditors have identified dozens of irregularities according to The Washington Post, including an "exorbitant" rate on a contract to supply gravel for peacekeeping barracks and $1.2 million in "unnecessary expenditures" for block bookings of hotel rooms that the United Nations was unable to fill.
Several instances of corruption were also cited in the report, including U.N. purchasing agents diverting contracts to companies that provided visa sponsorships and inappropriate financial compensation.
Faith J.H. McDonnell, Director of IRD's Church Alliance for a New Sudan, commented:
"The greatest tragedy here is that a little money can go a long way in helping those Sudanese who are in need. While nonprofit aid organizations and churches can do wonders with just a few hundred or thousand dollars, the U.N. wastes millions. The lost opportunities are staggering.
"There are reports in Juba of U.N. workers served luxurious brunches by five-star chefs while southern Sudanese outside scramble to piece together paltry school tuition fees. It is nothing short of a travesty.
"Southern Sudan is really the best hope for peace in the entire country. Marginalized people groups are coming together with Southern Sudanese as never before. All Sudanese who want just peace, secular democracy, and religious freedom are counting on the U.N. and African Union forces to assist them in stabilizing and developing their country, not taking control from indigenous leaders and replaying the same corruption we've seen in many other countries."
The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.