The theft of aid and the failure to deliver food to the most needy is not only due to the presence of armed groups, but is related to chronic imbalances that most UN agencies operating in Yemen have suffered since before the outbreak of the war.
In May 2014, during the rule of the National Unity government (which was formed on the basis of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative), Colonel Ali Abdullah Al-Muhashmi was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Tenth Brigade “Sa'iqa”. However, he continued to carry out his commercial business through the Maeen Contracting, Oil and Gas Field Services company (MCOG), including contracts with the World Food Program (WFP), worth millions of dollars.
The Panama Papers published in April 2016 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the German newspaper SZ (Süddeutsche Zeitung), included names of Yemenis who owned offshore companies (used for tax evasion and money laundering). Despite the public reach of the Panama Papers scandal, the World Food Program continued to deal with Yemeni companies whose owners’ names were mentioned in those documents, such as wheat merchant Muhammad Abdullah Fahim and businessman Muhammad Abdo Saeed, according to United Nations procurement data.
The World Food Program did not only deal with suppliers in contravention of Yemeni laws and the United Nations Convention against Corruption, but also has bought goods and services from suppliers suspected of having links with the conflict parties. The value of the program’s purchases from businessman Ali Al-Hadi, who is close to the Houthis, amounts to $ 13 million annually.
The corruption rate in most countries is ranging between 1 and 5%. However, the average reported corruption within the United Nations system is estimated at 0.30% and this low percentage does not reflect the reality. Indeed, the UN organization is covering up the truth, and it seems that the organization has limited or weak oversight bodies, and it does not possess full independence to report on corruption, as confirmed by the Joint Inspection Unit.
In response to the author’s questions, the WFP office in Yemen said that its contracts with suppliers obligate them to accept and comply with uniform ethical standards, including informing the program of any conflict of interest. However, internal evaluation reports on the program’s performance for the period 2014-2017 in several countries, including Yemen, confirm that the program violated the principles of humanitarian work, provided poor-quality or expired food, and its contracts with commercial suppliers were devoid of provisions related to bias and impartiality.
The triangle of failure
The United Nations is considered an ethical, legal and development reference for the world’s governments. The policies of the United Nations institutions emphasize combating fraud and corruption, yet UN officials and employees practiced fraud and corruption, and participated in creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Instead of working to reduce the humanitarian crisis, according to this investigation, the UN organization concealed its true causes and contributed to its exacerbation.
In December 2017, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen and 14 international organizations issued a statement condemning “in the strongest terms allegations of corruption and prejudice directed at humanitarian organizations operating in Yemen,” and demanding evidence be provided.
Meanwhile, specifically between January 2017 and July 2019, partner organizations of the OCHA office in Yemen were selling funds allocated for humanitarian projects on the black market, with the aim of personal gain from the difference in the exchange rate of the dollar against the Yemeni riyal, without keeping that in their records.
When the auditors documented those irregularities, which amounted to more than 413 thousand dollars, the OCHA office intervened to revise their reports in a way that would lead to the acquittal of the perpetrators, according to the report of the Office of Internal Audit (OIOS), dated December 7, 2019, No. AN2O19. 590/02.
The United Nations data is a reference for researchers and media professionals, but its information on the humanitarian situation in Yemen is marred by inconsistency and imprecision, according to models analyzed by the author, for example, the July-December 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan stated that, during the year 2019, the Houthis imposed a ban on the movement of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, in some cases for months, and yet the same plan stated that aid “reached families in all of Yemen’s 333 districts in 2019”.
This is neither the first nor the last time that the United Nations has presented irrational narratives. In April 2017, OCHA said the number of people suffering from acute food insecurity had fallen to 6.8 million. In December 2017 (8 months later), OCHA estimated that more than 8 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity. Zaid Al-Alaya, the media spokesman for the OCHA office in Yemen, did not comment on this and requested questions and this investigation report to be sent to him via e-mail. However, the author did not receive a response until the moment of writing this report.
UN agencies are obligating their employees not to speak to the media or post comments on social media, in order to preserve their impartiality, according to aid workers met by the author. However, several UN agencies have funded organizations aligned or suspected of being affiliated with the conflict parties.
In early 2018, the “Al-Ekram” Charity and Development Foundation was established on the instructions of Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, according to an announcement made at the inauguration ceremony broadcasted by the Houthi-affiliated Al-Masirah channel. Al-Ekram coordinates and cooperates with the Bunyan Foundation, which is openly managed by the Houthis. Al-Ekram participated in official Houthi activities, yet it still received funding from the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF), which is managed by OCHA, and participates in the Food Security Cluster. The executive director of Al-Ekram foundation, Fathi Al-Batal, was designated as a coordinator for the Shelter and Non-Food Items cluster led by the UNHCR (in Saada).
The Charitable Society for Social welfare (CSSW) is considered one of the most active partners of the United Nations. It has implemented projects within the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen, at a time when its president, Murshid Al-Arshani, combined his government position as Minister of Justice with his presidency at CSSW. He did not leave his position until May 2019.
The author documented at least 10 non-governmental organizations that received funding as part of the Response Plan for Yemen, despite their association with sectarian and political entities involved in the conflict.
Cemetery of the displaced
Munir al-Sabbari, deputy coordinator of the Camp Coordination and Camp management (CCCM), estimates the number of displaced people in informal settlements at about one million. Sumaya al-Hassam, president of the “Supporting Organization for Development”, said to the author that “the selection of sites for the displaced lacks legal, geographical and societal analysis, or follow-up and evaluation, which poses a threat to the lives of displaced people”.
On September 13 2020, when the author visited the cooperation site for the displaced in Al-Birin district in Al-Ma'fer district, Taiz governorate (256 km south of Sana'a), he found a group of young men dancing to the beat of drums, to celebrate the marriage of a displaced young man. However, the wedding was held on a cemetery, which has created hostility towards the IDP’s. According to Hafez Ezz El-Din, from Al-Hamra village, the hostility intensified when the displaced people began digging septic tanks. This was confirmed by the head of the executive unit for managing IDP camps, Bassam Al-Haddad, and the director of the directorate, Adel Al-Masmar.
In addition to that, there are two other reasons for the escalation of hatred towards the displaced: the first is UN’s construction of wooden housing for the displaced instead of tents in cemeteries, which was considered by the residents as a settlement at the expense of the sanctity of their dead, and the second reason is the exclusion of the poor people in the host community from aid, although “some of them are no less poor than the displaced,” says Al-Masmar.
“I live there,” says Hayat Qassem, 40, pointing to a small hut less than two square meters in size. In this hut located at the cemetery, she and 8 of her family members live, dependent on charity for their livelihood, yet Hayat did not receive shelter materials or food aid, on the pretext that she is not displaced, according to what she says.
The majority of the displaced people, in the sites visited by the author, and in other verified areas, are a marginalized and poor group popularly called Akhdam. And they were hosted by other Akhdam who often reside on the outskirts of cities and villages, especially in cemeteries. However, the UN agencies’ approach to camp management and aid delivery lead to the creation of discord within the marginalized community.
A member of the community committee for the displaced people in the Al-Dhahra site in the Safia area (the Al-Shamayatayn district in Taiz) accused an influential figure in the region of instigating the Akhdam in the host community, to fabricate a moral charge against her, and to try to tear up her tent and expel her. It is an issue that reached local bodies such as the Yemeni Women’s Union, according to Samira Al-Azazi, head of the union’s branch in Al-Shamayatayn.
Four witnesses, including Saeed Hassan Ali, head of the community committee for the displaced people at the Taawon site in Al-Bireen, said that a three-year-old girl named Lala Abdel Fattah vomited blood, and her body was swollen as a result of her fear of gunshots fired by a person who was standing next to her in order to prevent the distribution of hygiene materials to the displaced. Al-Haddad confirmed the incident, noting that the accused person was arrested and was imprisoned, and he was only released after he pledged not to repeat this behavior.
In some regions in southern Yemen, where some political movements are calling for the secession of the South from the North, the hate and incitement against the displaced people took an organized political character, in which local newspapers and websites participated, as they considered the presence of displaced persons a plot to settle northerners with the aim of disrupting the demographic fabric of society in the South.
In response to the author’s questions, al-Sabbari said that he would investigate the existence of a camp at a cemetery, and asked for the phone number of the displaced woman who was threatened to be expelled. On incitement against the displaced people in the south of the country, Al-Sabari said that the Protection Bloc is trying to organize awareness campaigns for the community.
Humanitarian organizations bribing the authorities and influential people is a widespread phenomenon in both Houthi and government-controlled areas. A UN agency employee confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that two-months negotiations took place to allow his organization to build wooden housing for displaced persons. He added: “We were not allowed to implement the transitional shelter project, except after we included a number of village council members”. He justified the establishment of the project on a cemetery by not having state-owned land.
Before preparing this investigative report for publication, a source in the Community Committee for Displaced Persons in the Dahra site in Al-Shamayatayn said that an international partner organization of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had reached a solution with the Village Council, according to which a group of the villagers should be included in the lists of the winter grant beneficiaries estimated at 125,000 riyals (about $ 120) paid to each family, to agree to let the displaced woman stay and to stop harassing her.
Sidewalks and prisons
In September 2016, the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi decided to transfer the administration of the Central Bank of Yemen from the capital, Sana'a, to the city of Aden, which it had taken as a temporary capital. At the time, the government pledged to pay the salaries of all employees, but it did not fulfill its commitment, and it restricted the disbursement to employees in its areas, leaving about 1.2 million working in Houthi-controlled areas, without salaries.
Last October, on the occasion of World’s Teachers’ Day, UNICEF called for the resumption of salaries for the 160,000 Yemeni teachers who have not received their salaries regularly since 2016. However, UNICEF has allocated most of its cash transfers to entities of the Sana'a and Aden governments that have used “starvation as a weapon of war”, as confirmed by the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen (GEE).
In 2017 and 2018, UNICEF provided $ 178 million to the authorities, most of which was handed over to Houthi entities, according to the 2019 audit report. According to World Bank estimates, the employees and their families residing in Houthi-controlled areas, constitute about a quarter of the population. The United Nations could have used this reliable database to distribute aid, but instead it left these poor people vulnerable to hunger and danger.
On the sidewalk opposite to the building of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate in Al-Tawahi District, Aden Governorate, 43-year old teacher Abdul Qawi Naji Al-Mikhlafi and his child sell phone batteries, balloons, and small commodities. Al-Mikhlafi, his wife and his 7 children were displaced to Aden in early 2018. He began working at Ibn Khaldun Primary School in Al-Tawahi District but he hasn’t receive his salary yet, according to what he said in an interview last August.
Al-Mikhlafi’s case is similar to that of thousands of teachers who were displaced to areas under the control of the internationally recognized government. Among these is the case of educational counselor Ahmed al-Qudsi, who fled to the southern part of the city of Taiz, (which is under the control of the government). Last September, al-Qudsi joined a group of teachers and appointed a law firm to file a lawsuit against the government. Two officials in the Yemeni government’s Finance Ministry did not answer the author’s questions on this matter, while the ministry’s media spokesperson, Wael Qabati, estimated the number of displaced employees who receive salaries at 20,000.
At the end of 2019, Muhammad Ali al-Kabashi, an employee at the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendums, decided to travel to Aden, to confront the authorities in order to recover his salary, but instead he was taken to an isolation cell in Badr Camp in the Khor Maksar neighborhood in Aden on February 8, 2020, after an official in the Elections Commission informed the Finance Ministry’s guard that al-Kabashi was working with the Houthis, according to the documents. He spent 45 days in that cell full of mosquitoes, during which his father “died of sorrow”, according to al-Kabashi, who was released on March 25, thanks to a colleague at work who was vouching for him.
After his release, al-Kabashi decided to return to Sana'a to see the rest of his family. Upon his arrival at a security checkpoint in the Al-Qobayta district in Lahj governorate, Houthi gunmen stopped him and took him to Al-Saleh city prison in Taiz governorate, to spend 6 months and 15 days there, on charges of loyalty to the government. “They did not believe that I was imprisoned in Aden on charges of working with the Houthis,” says Al-Kabashi, who was released last November after an inspection visit by a committee affiliated with the Houthis.
The case of Muhammad Ali al-Kabashi is one of hundreds of tragic stories of civilians who suffered in the ongoing conflict. Some of them died while trying to recoup their salaries, while the conflict parties continue to use resources and aid to attract and recruit fighters.
Security Council Resolution No. 2216 on the prohibition of arms access to the Houthis and the forces loyal to the former regime, gives the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia the right to inspect ships and aircraft coming to and leaving Yemen, but the restrictions imposed on the movement of navigation in Yemen were used to obscure the humanitarian crisis suffered by the Yemeni people.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition imposed a total blockade of Yemeni ports and airports as a response to the Houthis and former regime supporters’ ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia in November 2017. The blockade lasted 3 weeks and was met with global condemnation. However, the reason for the problem of hunger in Yemen is mainly because most Yemenis lost their sources of income, according to a World Bank report titled “Securing imports of the necessary food commodities to Yemen”.
In November 2017, the volume of food arriving through the Red Sea ports increased to 295,966 metric tons, compared to 113,374 metric tons in November 2016, according to data from the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mission (UNVIM), and the statistics of the Red Sea Ports Corporation. In 2017, oil arriving through the same ports increased by 157,000 metric tons compared to 2016. Despite the easy access to these facts, UN and international organizations have been linking the increasing hunger of Yemenis to the siege and the fighting.
The United Nations could have contributed to saving the Yemeni economy from collapse, by depositing aid money in the Central Bank of Yemen, but the UN organization “followed the example of the Arab coalition countries that continued to transfer money to Yemeni groups loyal to them by air, which deprived the Central Bank of the opportunity to maintain the stability of the value of the Yemeni riyal, ”says Dr Yusuf Saeed Ahmed , Professor of Economics at the University of Aden.
An official at the Ministry of Planning in the internationally recognized Yemeni government said on condition of anonymity, that the United Nations considered the proposal to deposit aid money in the Central Bank “impractical”. The OCHA office in Yemen declined to comment on this matter. The Yemeni government spokesman, Rajeh Badi, declined to confirm or deny this information.
On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, urged people around the world “to continue working on finding innovative solutions in order to win the battle against corruption.” However, the United Nations has rarely served as a role model. The Secretary-General and the General Secretariat are not really implementing the recommendations issued by the regulatory agencies, according to a report by the Joint Inspection Unit, titled “Preventing and responding to fraud in the United Nations organizations”.
At the end of 2018, when the Associated Press of America (AP) published a report on the theft of humanitarian aid in Yemen, the World Food Program admitted that the Houthis stole aid through at least one organization, the School Feeding and Humanitarian Relief Project (SFHRP) of the Ministry of Education, which handles the distribution of 60% of the in-kind assistance that the program provides in the Houthi-controlled areas.
However, this recognition was late and incomplete. The administration of the WFP in Rome had been officially aware of this issue since at least 2016, but kept quiet about the matter, and secretly negotiated with the Houthis, according to the internal documents of the program.
In the summer of 2016, the review team found no indication that the program was dealing with a third-degree emergency, and concluded that the program’s performance in Yemen for the period of January 2015 until April 2016 was “unsatisfactory, meaning that the internal controls and governance and risk management practices are either not established or are not performing well,” a classification meaning that some of the issues identified could potentially expose the program to failure.
In that report, as in the audit of November 2017, the school feeding project was among the program’s most involved partners in aid “leakage”. However, the program management did not take any action at the time, and used a “proactive integrity review”, a tool developed by the Program Inspector General office, in May 2015.
On June 20, 2019, the program announced in a statement a partial suspension of food aid operations in Houthi-controlled areas. Two months later, the food distribution resumed, following an agreement with the Houthis that would allow to implement the biometric fingerprint project, but the agreement was not implemented until the moment of writing this report, according to the WFP office in Yemen.
The Houthi militia and the military forces controlling Sana'a and most areas of northern Yemen did not implement the agreement, and also escalated their campaign against aid agencies in an unprecedented way. The number of incidents against humanitarian activists increased from 154 incidents in the first quarter of 2019 to 1,810 in the first quarter of 2020. These incidents included interference in the implementation of activities, restricting the movement of staff and goods, assaulting employees, affecting projects of non-governmental organizations, and attempting to control design, budgeting, procurement, and staffing processes. 95% of these incidents are attributed to the Houthis, according to the June-December 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan.
However, these incidents are the result of “the United Nations complying with a series of demands, directing huge sums of money to corrupt ministries, and the failure to investigate and report transparently about the alleged complicity of UN agencies in diverting aid, which encouraged the authorities to seek greater control over relief operations,” according to a report issued last September by Human Rights Watch, titled “Fatal consequences”.
This investigation proves that the theft of aid and the failure to deliver food and to reach the most needy is not only due to the presence of armed groups such as the Houthis and others, but is mainly related to the chronic imbalances that most UN agencies operating in Yemen have suffered since before the outbreak of the fighting.
Nabil Al-Hakimi, former director of the office of the High Relief Committee in Taiz governorate, and Muhammad Al-Amiri, head of the Charitable and Developmental Rescue Foundation, and others believe that “corruption in the relief field is the result of weak institutional work, the lack of a reliable database, and the lack of transparency”.
The Italian doctor Nivio Zagaria’s website shows his deep sympathy to Yemenis, but during his tenure as the representative of the World Health Organization in Yemen, he spent donor funds in an inefficient way, and for purposes other than those for which it was allocated to by the World Health Organization, in a statement, dated 7 August 2019.
Zagaria’s performance is similar to the performance of many UN and international agencies’ employees working on the crisis in Yemen, which has been witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world for five years, according to the United Nations. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) canceled the contracts of their representatives in Yemen, but the World Food Program only transferred the director of its office in Yemen, the US American Stephen Anderson, to Myanmar .
Yemen tops the list of 20 countries with the highest risks of fraud and corruption out of 84 countries in which the Food Program operates, according to a list created by the external auditor for the program. The number of investigations on the WFP office in Yemen in 2017 and 2018 reached seven, some of which related to the WFP office in Yemen dealing with suppliers without providing a financial guarantee. However, none of these issues lead to a change in the program’s approach.
The total funding for the humanitarian response plan in Yemen amounted to more than 9 billion US dollars in the period between 2015-2019. Almost a third of this amount was allocated to the World Food Program, which has a fleet of 5,600 trucks, 30 ships, and 100 aircraft, according to its data. However, the WFP, which was established in 1961, is still exposed to great risks of fraud and corruption, according to the external auditor of the program’s accounts in its annual reports.
Until October 2020, more than one million people have registered with the biometric system (fingerprint system) in government-controlled areas, according to the WFP. The fingerprint system may limit the duplication of names, but it does not guarantee that aid reaches those most in need. The WFP and the UNICEF rely on the Social Welfare Fund database, in addition to new lists issued based on political, sectarian and regional loyalty criteria.
Muhammed Muqbel al-Azizi, an employee of the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendums, managed to escape with his family to Aden, in mid-September 2020, after he was released from a Houthi prison with a guarantee from the Syndicate of Journalists that he will not leave Sana'a. Al-Azizi went to the WFP office in Aden to ask for help, and he was told that the program partners would come to his home, “but I have not received anything since then,” says Azizi, who was interviewed on 25th of August.
Yemen suffers from the risks of politicizing the public sphere, including official statistics and relief. The Social Welfare Fund database is one of the most reliable lists in poverty surveys, but it is outdated and has been politicized. Indeed, during the 2008 national survey, at least three heads of survey teams were arrested on charges of tampering with the survey data for political and electoral purposes, according to documents obtained by the author.
At the end of 2014, the program pledged to the internal audit team to reform the beneficiaries’ records, but it has not. It has been, since then, using the Welfare Fund list that includes about 1.5 million beneficiaries, in addition to a list of about 10 million beneficiaries who have been registered since 2015, by local officials.
The WFP did not respond to the author’s questions about the mechanism it uses to register the beneficiaries, and only said that it raised the number of people benefiting from about one million in 2015 to nearly 13 million at the present time. However, dozens of cases documented by this investigation indicate that the registration of beneficiaries was subject to criteria unrelated to poverty, and that the biometric fingerprint system was based on the old record, as “village councils are the ones in charge of registering the beneficiaries,” says Al-Haddad.
The Najd Omran neighborhood is located next to the central prison in the city of Taiz, but none of the UN organizations have reached this neighborhood since 2015, according to Talal Dahan, 32, and other residents who met with the author, and the neighborhood official, Abd al-Bari al-Najashi.
In his rented home in the Rawda neighborhood in the Dar Saad district of Aden governorate, Ibrahim Muhammad Anam, 80, lies on the bed, barely able to move his eyes due to a stroke that caused him paralysis. In this three-room house, Anam, a retired employee of the October 14 Press and Publication Foundation, hosts two families who were displaced in early 2018 from the city of Hodeidah. One of them is his granddaughter’s family, who was displaced after the factory where her husband Wagdi Saeed works was bombed. The two displaced families are not getting any help.
Al-Azizi and others complained of regional and racist practices when registering beneficiaries. Abd al-Wahid Muhammad al-Samai’, 60, one of the displaced northerners who arrived in Aden in early 2018, explained that district official Aqil al-Hara refused to register him because of his northern provenance.
The WFP says that efficiency is at the core of its work, “every minute is important in emergency situations to deliver food to the vulnerable, and every dollar saved means that the program can reach a greater number of hungry people.” However, the projects reviewed by the author show that the program is more like an international merchant than a humanitarian organization concerned with combating hunger and saving lives.
In 2011, before the expansion of the fighting, the program obtained from the British Department for International Development (DFID) a grant of $ 3.481 million to finance the Food Security Emergency Program Project in Yemen. Of the total grant, the program purchased wheat and oil from the international market amounting to $ 1.868 million (54%), and the rest of the grant amounting to 1.612 million (46%), distributed as follows:
External transport costs 28,071 $ 1.7%
Internal transport and storage costs 740,778 $ 45.9%
Other direct operating costs 258,744 $ 16%
Direct Support Costs 357,486 $ 22.16%
Indirect Support Cost 227,729 $ 14.12%
Misspending donor funds is practiced across various agencies in both large and small projects. For example, in 2017, the Islah Association implemented a project to distribute school bags, notebooks and pens to 15,140 displaced students and host communities, with a value of $ 244,080, distributed as follows:
Value of educational supplies $ 151,400
Transportation costs $ 40,000
Staff costs $ 40,680
Monitoring visits costs $ 12,000
At the end of 2017, an inter-agency study titled “Market Functions and Community Perception of Cash Assistance Programs” recommended the use of the multipurpose cash program as the most appropriate for Yemen. However, the WFP and many agencies maintained their old-fashioned approach, which exacerbated the dilemma of money squandering and food leakage or spoilage and burglary.
As of December 30, 2018, the value of goods stacked in WFP warehouses in Yemen, due to operational access challenges, was $ 400 million. In 2019, for the second year in a row, Yemen ranked first in the list of 10 countries that recorded the highest post-delivery losses.
The value of the WFP losses in Yemen from wheat flour amounted to 1,631 metric tons, which accounts for 77% of the total program losses in 2019 at the global level, according to the program’s data. The WFP’s focus on buying food from international companies, and its corruption permissiveness, not only caused financial losses, but, in March 2019 lead to the poisoning of more than 300 people in Uganda, five of whom died, after consuming “Cereal Super” distributed by the program, according to the program and the Ugandan Ministry of Health.
The WFP’s financial loss report for the year 2019 indicates that the program discovered in mid-2018 shipments of enriched wheat “Super Cereal” that contained a toxic substance. However, the program management at that time only withdrew the product and recovered its money from the supplier. It was until there were deaths reported in Uganda that the WFP stopped dealing with the supplier.
On November 17, the Security Belt Forces in Aden, loyal to the Southern Transitional Council, said that they had seized quantities of expired foodstuffs in the WFP’s warehouses, including “Super Cereal”.
The author tried to contact the external auditor, Mr. Richard Bellin, on his work phone number, but no one answered, and this is due, according to one source, to the suspension of work in Rome due to the Covid 19 epidemic. It was not possible to obtain his cell phone number and e-mail address, yet, the author sent an email, which included the results of the investigation and a set of questions to the Inspector General of the program, Kiko Harvey. However, she did not respond either.
The research for this article was supported by the Candid Foundation’s journalism grant.