Akjemal Magtymova, the WHO representative for Syria, is the subject of a historic investigation by more than 20 internal and external investigators who are looking into a number of charges, including corruption, money laundering, willful disregard for COVID-19 procedure, and abuse of authority.
According to a series of private documents made available to the Associated Press, the Turkish-born doctor is under investigation for misusing donor and organization funds, pressuring the WHO to sign shady contracts with high-ranking Syrian government officials, and abusing her coworkers and subordinates emotionally.
Financial records revealed that Ms. Magtymova squandered $10,000 (more than 25 million Syrian pounds) on a party to celebrate her own accomplishments as the organization’s country lead at a time when the nation was having difficulty obtaining COVID-19 vaccines.
Her coworkers voiced worries about the agency’s failure to keep track of its support for medical institutions in Syria, but they got no reaction. Investigations revealed a concerning “spot check” that revealed inconsistencies between a health project in the country’s north and what the agency had paid for.
Additionally, she was charged with hiring unqualified relatives of Syrian leaders, particularly those on watch lists for international human rights breaches, over qualified candidates. This favoritism put Syrian citizens at a disadvantage and discouraged possible contributors. It also sparked scandals and reports of fraud.
In addition, Ms. Magtymova allegedly violated WHO coronavirus guidelines while the outbreak was at its worst and refused to support a remote work mode that was widely used to stop the virus’ spread while forcing more than 100 employees to engage in a flash mob dance and record the choreography.
The WHO Syria director, who is under fire, was also charged with failing to isolate herself after testing positive for COVID-19 and infecting four of her coworkers. Furthermore, six of her employees claimed she often referred to them as “cowards” and “retarded.”
Additionally, Ms. Magtymova interacted with Russian military officials outside of officially sanctioned relations, which could jeopardize the entire WHO humanitarian mission in the area by violating the neutrality principle of the United Nations.
Without providing a completion date, the WHO stated that it had been one of its most complex studies.
“It has been a long and difficult investigation, made more difficult by the circumstances in the nation and the difficulties in securing proper access while guaranteeing staff safety. We are unable to comment further on the specific allegations due to concerns over security and adherence to the law, according to WHO.
Although Ms. Magtymova referred to the accusations as false, she would not elaborate. Although she is now on leave while the investigation is ongoing, she is still being paid.