UN’s Lost Aid May Be Tip of the Iceberg

By WILLIAM BOOT

Wednesday,July 30,2008

BANGKOK—The loss of United Nations aid money via “unacceptable” exchange rates orchestrated by the Burmese regime was going on long before this week’s disclosures about Cyclone Nargis cash losses, a US nongovernmental organization says.

“There are indications that [the United Nations Development Program], even prior to Cyclone Nargis, provided larger cuts to Myanmar’s Than Shwe government than the [up to] 25 percent now admitted to by the UN’s humanitarian operations,” said Matthew Russell Lee of the New York-based NGO Inner City Press.

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UN Admits Losses to Myanmar Junta Through Currency Exchange, NGOs Skirt with Hawala

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 — The question is not “if” but “how much” money Myanmar’s military government has taken from the UN aid that has come into the country since Cyclone Nargis hit, it emerged Friday at the UN. John Holmes, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, told Inner City Press that some level of loss would be acceptable in exchanging dollars for government-issued Foreign Exchange Certificates, which are in turn converted into the local currency, Kyat. “One percent would probably be okay,” he said. Video here, from Minute 37:50.

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