News

U.S. concerned over misused funds allegations at UNAIDS

U.S.  concerned  over misused funds allegations at UNAIDS
Health
In a statement late Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said the government remains "committed to ensuring that UNAIDS has a clear and robust approach to eliminating all forms of harassment" within the organization.

Earlier this week, the AP reported the U.N. AIDS agency remains embroiled in unfinished misconduct investigations involving a whistleblower, Martina Brostrom, who went public last year with claims she was sexually assaulted by a top deputy.

"We are concerned any time that there are potential allegations of fraud or misuse of funds," the U.S. spokesperson said. The U.S. is UNAIDS biggest donor.

Confidential documents obtained by the AP show UNAIDS is grappling with previously unreported allegations that Brostrom and her former supervisor may have taken part in "fraudulent practices and misuse of travel funds."

The ongoing turmoil is a damaging distraction for an agency at the centre of multibillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded U.N. efforts to end the global AIDS epidemic by 2030. The virus affects more than 37 million people worldwide and kills more than 900,000 people every year.

"The U.S. highly values transparency and due diligence and in this context, supports the timely completion of all investigations," said the U.S. spokesperson, who added that the government remains "committed" to a strong U.N. AIDS agency. The U.S. stopped short of saying whether any funding would be withheld.

After Brostrom s public charges that she was sexually assaulted last year, an independent review of UNAIDS found there was a "toxic" atmosphere at the agency and that it was plagued by "defective leadership." UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe announced he would leave in June -- six months before his term was set to end.

Sweden, UNAIDS no. 2 donor, announced last year it would suspend its funding to the agency until the leadership had changed.

"There is a massive backlash in the U.S. and the U.K. against multilateralism, and all of this helps fuel the argument, of why should we fund these far-away agencies when we have these other problems at home?" said Devi Sridhar, a global public health expert at the University of Edinburgh.

She said that agencies need to be more transparent when such problems occur and take immediate steps to resolve them.

"If these agencies cannot account for how they spend their funds, then there s no reason for countries to donate to them," Sridhar said. "These ongoing allegations certainly don t help and just add fuel to the fire."
Read more on CTVnews
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Health
GENEVA A year after claims of sexual assault and harassment rocked the UN agency that fights HIV, UNAIDS looked like it might be on the mend. The top deputy...
Health
GENEVA The head of the UN agency focusing on AIDS says he ll leave his post in June, an early departure announced a week after independent experts looking into...
World
GENEVA The U.N. AIDS agency says its executive director is leaving the post immediately, following allegations he mishandled sexual assault claims at the agency. UNAIDS said Michel Sidibe will...
Health
BERLIN An independent panel of experts on sexual harassment is being set up at UNAIDS after calls for the organization s head to resign over his handling of harassment...
Science
A report on the culture of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDScalls for the firing ofMichel Sidib, its executive director. Denis Balibouse/REUTERS An independent panel that reviewed the culture...