Unicef Confirms $87,000-a-Month Rent for Rangoon Office

Yangon, foreign relations, real estate

The entrance to Unicef’s office in Bahan Township’s up-market Golden Valley neighborhood. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has confirmed that it pays US$87,000 per month to rent its Rangoon headquarters from the family of a former Burmese military official.

The Irrawaddy first reported this week that the UN agency’s large new office in Bahan Township’s up-market Golden Valley neighborhood is rented from former Gen. Nyunt Tin, who served as minister of agriculture under the country’s military regime.

A “news note” that appeared on the website of Unicef East Asia and Pacific on Thursday was titled “Rising costs in Myanmar put strain on UNICEF’s resources in Yangon.” It recounted that after being asked to move from its office in Traders Hotel in 2012, the agency undertook an extensive city-wide search for a new office, amid “spiraling real estate prices” and scant choice of suitable properties.

“The current office premises, in Inya Myaing Road in Bahan Township, was then offered at a competitive rent of US$2.90 per square foot. The owner agreed to bear the additional expense of ensuring the new building was suitable for UNICEF’s work and provided a 3000sq ft side-building free-of-charge. This space is 33,000 sq.ft at a steep rental of $ 87,000 per month,” it said.

The statement compared the cost to the $45,000 per month cost—at $1 per square foot—that Unicef was paying for its space in Traders Hotel.

“However the rent is fixed for 7 years and it is a competitive commercial price in a tough market. Some international agencies have had to pay considerably more than our $2.9 per square ft for suitable space to avoid halting their programmes.”

The agency’s Burma representative Bertrand Bainvel wrote to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday to clear up “misconceptions” from the story, but did not address the detail of the agencies office rental. Bainvel told Agence-France Presse that the reported figure for the rent—$80,000-$90,000—was “not correct.”

The Unicef statement on Thursday also admitted that the property is rented from the family of a former military official. Given the monthly rental of $87,000, Unicef will pay the landlord more than $1 million per year for at least seven years.

“Standard due diligence on the owner and her family concluded that none of the international sanctions in place until recently had been levied against the landlady or her immediate family and no criminal charges were extant,” it said.

“Although allegations against a member of her family who was once a member of the previous military regime surfaced, the official had since left public office and was not subject to any criminal charges or international sanctions. Consequently, the best interests of the children we exist to help would not be damaged through this commercial engagement.”

16 Responses to Unicef Confirms $87,000-a-Month Rent for Rangoon Office

  1. The question is not how much unicef pay but it is rather how did a soldier manage to get chunk of money to build this expensive home. Government officers’ incomes plus robbed or stolen or siphoned money were used to own mansions by military dictators. The law must require the officials to report their incomes for transparency fact. Because thieves and robbers must not lead the nation.

    • wuthmone, that is one question that no one needs to ask because it is already known. A general in a country run by a military junta aquires great wealth is a surprise to no one. NGO’s have to make grudgingly make such partnerships with these people in order to do their work. This is how the world works.

  2. First thing first, have the authorities looked into the income tax? It would be a lot of money for the needy children.

  3. The people managing UNICEF look very daft. At that rental price and lease term, they could have bought their own property or built their own office complex and even shared it with other UN agencies. If all the people managing UN agencies were like that, the world would be in deep shit!

    • Don’t blame the NGO, Jeremy. This is the price the powers which control the country (can hardly call it a government) require outsiders to do their work. You had better believe that this is not the only UNICEF is paying generals in order to operate in Burma.

  4. This thievery is horrible, an injustice that impacts the needy children and the purported role of the NGO. Better to close this house up and move the office to a much cheaper part of the region. Shame!

  5. UNICEF is not there in Myanmar to serve the children but serving the generals.

  6. You can probably rent half the White House for that kind of money.
    No more donations for UNICEF

  7. UNICEF has shown the world what excess self-gratification looks like. It has also shown everyone that they are willing to kowtow to anyone and add insult to injury by putting money into unscrupulous landlords. UNICEF does not deserve one dime from anyone. Then there’s the children they claim to care for. Ask your landlord to donate 75% of the rent collected from UNICEF or is it all tucked safely in an account in Singapore? “SHAME ON UNICEF” , go ahead Google it.

  8. Sad eyes and smiling faces of the childens on the poster made me lame excuse on them.Soliciting fund is a hard thing to do.Thousands of donation boxes are placed near the cash registers at convenience stores,fast food joints and the check out lines of supermarkets and others.
    US 0.7 cents goes for 70 packets of food for babies and US $ $ 1 dollar for 165 times of vaccinations (shots or drop).Donors would be pretty much happy if they use the fund

  9. 87 thousand dollars per month? Over a million dollars per year? In Myanmar? Surely for way less than that money UNICEF can buy a property? Charity is a big business. Maybe a small part of the donations actually goes to humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries? A million dollars per year?! I live on the Thai island of Phuket and you’d be hard pushed to find even a luxury seaview villa with that kind of rent. Shame. Shame.

  10. What a disgusting news. With that kind of money can you imagine how many important programs UNICEF can implement for the poor children and related issues in Myanmar?
    First of all why UNICEF has to rent in most expensive neighborhood in Yangon, which is preferred location for cronies, ex military generals and drug lords. There are many other areas in Yangon, where UNICEF can rent for one tenths of the rent for more of less square footage.
    Again how much kickbacks does UNICEF Residence Representative get from Ex Agri- Minister Minister Nyunt Tin? Nyunt Tin was one of the most corrupt ministers during Than Shwe’s authoritarian regime and he has blood on his hands, including children’s. He’s on United States Government SDN list and all the US tax payer’s money going into his pocket.
    And who was the real estate broker that arranged that deal? A good friend of UNICEF Resident Representative?
    Can New York HQ look into this issue and tell us whether it is even aligned with UNICEF ethical and moral principles?
    We will be reporting this to US UN mission and to the Senators.
    UNICEF Resident Representative should be really ashamed for this very poor judgment.

  11. This is TOTALLY DISGUSTING and the HEAD of UNICEF in yangon should be question, UN HQ must investigate this issue….WHAT IS UNICEF all about are you contributing or are you there to enjoy your term and off to another place and start spending again…we have never, never in any time felt that this body is really contributing or just for show working.

    Well, our guest and question was right…we’ve been asking what is the actual role of these UN people doing…driving new land cruiser, pat high rented places, and what else there is….oh yes! big fat salaries or allowances…

    We believed there are more of these that we are not aware.

    Come on UN wake up…time to cut down and review all expenses…



  12. Just goes to prove what an corrupt and useless organization the whole UN structure is. It should be disolved and kicked out of New York. For god’s sake stop wasting tax payers hard earned funds to line the pockets of these third world crooks and so cronies of monsters ex-government official. Make them pay for their un-paid parking tickets and kick all UN people out of the US.

    Shame on you Obama Administration for failing to adress this blight on US soil…..

  13. This is outrageous. On top of this rent, UNICEF are also paying thousands of dollars a month for house rentals for their expatriate staff and around 30,000 per child in international school fees. What about spending a fraction of this money on the needy children they are supposed to be helping. Imagine how one month’s rent could help the Rohinga for example. UNICEF needs to get a grip on its priorities.

  14. Barcelone FC should warned the UNICEF of giving money the military is not excusable. UNICEF staff should have known before they rent the house. Shameless UNICEF. You are selling the logo children but helping the brutal Burmese generals.

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