UN peacekeepers defraud it of half a million dollars


Reuters reports that

U.N. peacekeepers enforcing a December 2000 peace accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea defrauded the world body of more than $500,000 in telephone calls, U.N. auditors reported on Monday.

Word of the abuse surfaces as the United Nations finds itself under fire for mismanagement of the now—defunct U.N. oil—for—food program for Iraq and for sexual abuse of minors by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

U.N. soldiers normally have to pay for personal calls while on a mission but the troops serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea used stolen personal identity codes or abused a grace period to place calls without paying for them in 2003 and 2004, the U.N. Board of Auditors said.

Users at the time were given a one—minute grace period before billing began, to ensure a connection was made.

Some soldiers abused the system by dialing as many as 100 consecutive calls within a single hour, each lasting less than a minute, to escape billing, the board said in its latest annual report on the finances of peacekeeping operations.

This may not be the most significant scandal to come along, but note the pervasive attitude of "gaming the system" which prevails in the UN. This looks like the norm, and is characteristic of organizations with deep problems.

Ed Lasky  3 22 05