UN proposing paying nearly $6 million to IEA for security

The United Nations is proposing to pay nearly $6 million for protection in Afghanistan to Islamic Emirate-run Interior Ministry personnel, whose chief is under UN and US sanctions and wanted by the FBI, according to a UN document and a source familiar with the matter, Reuters reported.

The proposed funds would be paid next year mostly to subsidize the monthly wages of IEA forces guarding UN facilities and to provide them a monthly food allowance under an expansion of an accord with the former US-backed Afghan government, the document reviewed by Reuters shows.

“The United Nations has a duty as an employer to reinforce and, where necessary, supplement the capacity of host states in circumstances where UN personnel work in areas of insecurity,” deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq wrote in an email in response to Reuters’ questions about the proposed payments. He did not dispute the contents of the document.

Several experts said the proposed payments raise questions about whether they would violate US and UN sanctions on the IEA and their top leaders, and whether the United Nations could detect diversions of funds for other purposes.

“What it comes down to is there is no proper oversight,” said the source, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter, Reuters reported.

The UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) budget is “currently under review,” but the mission “maintains full compliance with all UN sanctions regimes,” Haq said.

He did not respond to a question about whether the proposed payments would breach US sanctions.

A US Treasury Department official said the IEA and the Haqqani network remain designated under the U.S. government’s counterterrorism sanctions program and that unauthorized people supporting them “risk exposure to US sanctions.” Reuters reported.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to comment on the UN proposal.

The proposed funds would bolster the cash-strapped IEA’s ability to protect some 3,500 UN personnel in Kabul and 10 field offices. Many are striving to help the country of 39 million cope with food shortages amid a public services breakdown and an economic collapse accelerated by the evaporation of foreign financial aid.

Most of the $4 million would boost the wages of individual IEA members by $275-to-$319 per month and provide a monthly food allowance of $90 per person, “which was previously only paid in the regions but now also extended to Kabul,” the document said.

According to Reuters UNAMA would spend an additional nearly $2 million “for similar services” outside the security budget shared with other UN agencies, the document added.