UNHCR slammed for weak finance control

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is set to issue a furious rebuttal of allegations that management and financial abuses at the Geneva-based body are rife.

A UNHCR audit panel – NAO head Sir John Bourn, and the auditor generals of Ghana and India – is expected to tell the UN General Assembly in September that accounting practices, management controls and supervision of the $1bn agency budget were weak.

But a UNHCR spokesman said this week the reports appeared to be based on an early draft of an audit report for 1997 which gives the UNHCR a clean bill of health.

A ‘blow by blow rebuttal’ will be sent to donor countries’ missions in Geneva later this week.

The body, which helps around 22 million displaced people worldwide, was audited ‘left, right and centre’, said the spokesman. He acknowledged management problems in dealing with 687 different partners in often difficult situations, but added: ‘The organisation as such is financially sound and accountable.’

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