Business as usual: UN Personnel hugging most of Haiti’s relief funds

Fox News

The United Nations has quietly upped this year’s peacekeeping budget for earthquake-shattered Haiti to $732.4 million, with two-thirds of that amount going for the salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel, not residents of the devastated island.

The world organization plans to spend the money on an expanded force of some 12,675 soldiers and police, plus some 479 international staffers, 669 international contract personnel, and 1,300 local workers, just for the 12 months ending June 30, 2010.

Some $495.8 million goes for salaries, benefits, hazard pay, mandatory R&R allowances and upkeep for the peacekeepers and their international staff support. Only about $33.9 million, or 4.6 percent, of that salary total is going to what the U.N. calls “national staff” attached to the peacekeeping effort.

Click here to see the supplementary budget document.

Presumably, the budget also includes at least part of some $10 million that the U.N. has spent on renting two passenger vessels, the Sea Voyager (known to some U.N. staffers as the “Love Boat“) and the Ola Esmeralda, for a minimum of 90 days each, as highly subsidized housing for some of its peacekeepers and humanitarian staff. The tab for the two vessels, which offer catered food, linen service and comfortable staterooms and lounges, is about $112,500 per day.

Under a cost-sharing formula, the U.S. pays a 27 percent share of the entire $732.4 million peacekeeping tab for Haiti during this 12 month period, or about $197.7 million.

The ultimate size of the peacekeeping bill for Haiti this year has been a source of much concern among the three dozen or so of the U.N.’s 192 members who pick up roughly 96 percent of the U.N.’s overall peacekeeping bill.

That concern rose sharply about a month ago, when U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office issued an updated peacekeeping estimate that used a $700 million figure strictly as a placeholder for the final Haiti post-quake number.

The new figures take some of the uncertainty out of that estimate, but even so, the U.N. was taking no chances of raising concerns higher with its new tally; rather than take a new vote on the expanded peacekeeper budget, the U.N. Secretariat simply issued its revised tally as an extension of the previous $611 million allotment it had voted for Haiti.  More…

About Luis Miranda
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