Have you ever noticed that whatever the crisis, the UN’s first response is to call for more money to go the UN? Never mind if the UN is already sitting on a hoard of unspent cash, meant to feed, clothe, shelter and help the victims of the crisis. Thus within days of the 2004 Asian tsunami did we see former UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland slamming as “stingy” such bigtime UN sugar-daddies as the U.S., thus did former former Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his handpicked former head of the Oil-for-Food program, Benon Sevan, lament the funding shortfalls of an Iraq aid program in which even after all the billions in grafting, skimming and smuggling, the UN by 2003 still had more than $12 billion parked in the bank.
And now, it turns out that the World Food Program, while issuing dire warnings about a food crisis and the immediate need for at least $775 in extra funding, has been sitting on a cash hoard of more than $1.22 billion. Fox News has the story, complete with links to the UN audit containing this information, which was endorsed by WFP executive director Josette Sheeran just weeks before a conference at which she called for loads of fresh cash — part of the UN chorus on this issue in which Ban Ki-Moon as well has been calling for money, money, money and more money — claiming the WFP has only $18 million cash on hand.
And what does all the money, money, money really buy? Well, one thing it doesn’t buy is adequate oversight of how the UN spends all that money, money, money. For more in the never-ending series of UN scandals, see the latest from Inner-City Press on secret audits of the UN’s own investigative audit section. (Note: At the UN, even exposing the problem does not necessarily mean it will be addressed. These are the realms of jam tomorrow, never jam today). Seems like it would be a lot more helpful to the hungry people of the world if such donors as the U.S. were to simply cut out the money-stuffed UN as middleman, and give out bags of food and stacks of cash direct.