UN official’s rent deal, MPs want answers

MPs from both coalition and opposition parties have demanded clarification on claims that the Dutch government broke UN rules by paying for the rent of former aid minister Eveline Herfkens while she worked for the oganisation in New York.

The call follows claims in the magazine Vrij Nederland on Thursday that Herfkens received $280,000 dollars to pay for her apartment between October 2002 and January 2006. Herfkens told the magazine that this was normal practice.
A foreign affairs ministry spokesman told ANP news service that the affair is being investigated. He said he could not rule out the possibility that the payments had been made in breach of UN regulations because the department had been unaware of them.
‘Naturally you don’t do something like that on purpose,’ he told ANP.
‘If the payment was indeed against UN rules, it must be paid back,’ says Socialist MP Harry van Bommel in Friday’s Volkskrant.
Herfkens was appointed coordinator of the UN’s millennium goals to eradicate poverty in 2002.
The Vrij Nederland article strongly criticises Herfkens, suggesting that she was more interested in her own position than the world’s poor.
The magazine claims the ‘UN cheerleader’ is involved in a dispute with the organisation over her salary and working conditions.
A UN spokeswoman told the Volkskrant on Thursday that the Vrij Nederland story was incorrect and misleading.

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