Thursday, January 25, 2007

Interview with President of Iraqi NGO

Just a heads up, EPIC just published an interview with Khaldoon Ali, the president of Mercy Hands, an Iraqi NGO that works to assist the ever-increasing number of internally displaced people (IDP's) in Iraq. A good read. Beyond covering the IDP crisis and the works Mr. Ali's organization does to mitigate it, the interview also offers some insight into the challenges Iraqi NGO's themselves face- from lack of funding to meddling national ministries. I found particularly interesting the fact that Khaldoon Ali refuses to accept funding from the US.

Here is that part of the interview:
epic: Have you received funding directly from the United States?

Khaldoon: We haven’t. As a demonstration of our neutrality, we are not willing to accept funding from parties involved in the conflict. It is also a matter of principle. In my experience, the U.S. has not been completely honest about its spending in Iraq.

I will give you a personal example. Not long ago, I was approached by an acquaintance who works with the U.S. to appropriate funds to Iraqi NGOs, and he offered to give me money. He said that his job is to give money to Iraqi NGOs and report back to Washington that it was spent to support democracy in Iraq’s “hot areas,” like Baghdad and Anbar province. He asserted to me that some NGOs were taking millions of U.S. dollars and simply sending fake “progress” reports back to the U.S.! When he reported these incidents of fraud, his supervisor said that as long as the money was being spent, he didn’t care. I was outraged.

Rather than receive direct assistance from the U.S., Mercy Hands only takes funds from multilateral agencies, like the UN, and some international NGOs. Though funding is sometimes scarce and difficult to come by, it is a more honest means, and it is a way to ensure that my organization does not fall into a trap that could hurt us more than help us in the end.

1 comment:

mikevotes said...

Thanks for pointing me here. I remember being curious when you mentioned it.


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