WHO says it has 'zero tolerance' for corruption in Yemen

The World Health organization says it follows "a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of corruption", following the an Associated Press report on fraud and mismanagement that has marred the UN health agency's operations in Yemen

CAIRO -- The World Health Organization says it follows "a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of corruption" amid calls for greater transparency following an Associated Press report on fraud and mismanagement marring some U.N. operations in the country.

WHO issued a statement Wednesday saying it has an on-going investigation into its Yemen office after an internal audit last year found that controls over administration and finances there were "unsatisfactory."

The audit, it said, identified "conflicts of interest" and "suspected wrongdoing" among staffers in Yemen.

WHO said it "moved quickly to address audit recommendations," appointing a new country director, hiring more experienced staff and reforming the office structure to increase accountability.

In a report Monday , the AP revealed investigations by the WHO and UNICEF into operations in Yemen. According to internal documents and interviews with current and former aid officials, some U.N. staffers had been involved in fraud or mismanagement profiting off the massive humanitarian aid program aimed at keeping Yemenis alive amid the country's destructive civil war.

When asked about the AP story Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said WHO is "taking these allegations seriously" and that "all allegations of misuse of aid need to be investigated."

The information minister in Yemen's internationally recognized government called on the U.N to be transparent in its investigations. The government controls southern Yemen, battling with rebels known as Houthis who hold the north.

"We urge the U.N. to declassify these investigations ... to reveal the outcomes" to the Yemeni people, Moammar al-Iryani wrote in a tweet this week.

Saudi Arabia has sent millions of dollars to help fund aid operations by the U.N and other agencies in Yemen.