Thursday, February 22, 2018

  • Thursday, February 22, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
In the wake of the Oxfam sex scandal, there are a number of articles in the European press about the dark side of NGOs: how aid workers can get addicted to the power that comes from disbursing funding, and how their aims are often more geared towards keeping themselves afloat - competing with other NGOs for funding - rather than towards helping the people they pretend to be helping.

I've mentioned how UNRWA itself violates by its very existence the fundamental guiding ethos of aid workers: "Do No Harm." But the entire NGO industry in the Palestinian territories is guilty of the same, to some extent. Their aid money distorts national priorities and the equally corrupt PA is happy to let others take care of their issues rather than take control of responsibility for its citizens. The absurd situation now in Gaza where the PA is cynically withholding funds and directly hurting its own people is partially possible because NGOs are so willing to step in and make up for the shortfall, and reporters will not criticize them.

As the Conflict Sensitivity Consortium notes, which I have quoted before:
Aid is not neutral in the midst of conflict. Aid and how it is administered can cause harm or can strengthen peace capacities in the midst of conflicted communities. All aid programmes involve the transfer of resources (food, shelter, water, health care, training, etc.) into a resource-scarce environment. Where people are in conflict, these resources represent power and wealth and they become an element of the conflict. Some people attempt to control and use aid resources to support their side of the conflict and to weaken the other side. If they are successful or if aid staff fail to recognise the impact of their programming decisions, aid can cause harm.
This is the larger context of the Oxfam scandal, but it is also the exact problem with the multiplicity of NGOs competing for funding for their Palestinian pets. And that funding very often comes from sources that would otherwise fund people who are far more in need than Palestinians are. As a result, Palestinian NGOs are encouraged to exaggerate the problems that ordinary Palestinians have far beyond reality. I recently documented how a consortium of 70 NGOs in the territories go out of their way to twist basic economic data to make it appear that the Palestinian economy is worsening under "occupation" when, by any measure, it has been improving year over year.

That is 70 well-known, respected NGOs publicly misleading their donor communities in order to get more funds. Why is no one outraged? But they have to misrepresent the facts, because otherwise they won't get any money.

Meanwhile, the corruption from both NGOs and the Palestinian leadership that takes advantage of foreign aid money keeps happening. i24News reports:

A corruption case involving senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials who allegedly embezzled part of EU funding for personal gain was revealed by i24NEWS .

While the opaque - or "obscure" - links between the PA and foreign donations transmitted by Brussels have already been mentioned in the past, the information obtained by i24NEWS via sources in Gaza and abroad is particularly compromising, especially in regards a particular man.

It is Marwan Darzi, former director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and head of the Palestinian coordination office in Zone C (an area under Israeli security and administrative control), whose structure receives grants from the EU through international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from Switzerland, France, Belgium and Germany.Even in 2017, Darzi would have taken advantage of his position to travel abroad to the tune of 100,000 euros. Members of his family also participated in these "business trips".

In addition, he would have bought for himself, his family and relatives for more than 60,000 euros of computer equipment through the entry of 3G in the Palestinian territories as he would have bought more than 80,000 euros of clothes and jewelry for his relatives and started repairs to his garden up to 200,000 euros.

According to i24NEWS sources , the office does not report the total amount of donations received through international organizations, even going as low as 70% of their original value.

Indeed, i24NEWS discovered that Marwan Darzi would have benefited from the links between his office and the Palestinian Investment Fund headed by Tareq Abbas, the son of the Palestinian President, accused in the past of embezzling hundreds of millions of euros via organizations and society screen.His name appeared in particular in the scandal of "Panama Papers" of the consulting firm Fonseca.

They would have also benefited from the help of Yaya Rabah, the spokesman of the PA. The latter has recently acquired a luxury jeep without paying taxes, a fraud punishable by imprisonment in the Palestinian territories.
This is the norm, not the exception, in the PA and with the aid distributed by the EU. There is no insistence on sound accounting and audit of the funds. Palestinians know that their officials are corrupt, as this political cartoon shows:



Europeans are waking up to the idea that their aid money to third world countries is going to enrich corrupt politicians and actually hurt the people meant to be helped. It won't take long before they see the exact same issue in the Palestinian arena, which gets aid that is massively disproportionate to the problems that ordinary Palestinians have.


(h/t Yoel)





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