Saturday, August 13, 2011

US suspends work of aid groups in Gaza Strip

Trucks enter the Gaza Stri
Photo by: REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot


Official says Hamas has "created an environment which jeopardizes the ability of non-governmental organizations to provide assistance to Gaza's most vulnerable residents."

GAZA - The United States has suspended operations of the aid organizations it funds in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip because the Islamist group had demanded confidentialinformation about their work, a US official told Reuters on Friday.

"USAID-funded partner organizations operating in Gaza are forced by Hamas's actions to suspend their assistance work. (They) were put on hold effective August 12," said the official, who is based in the region.

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He added that "through a series of measures (Hamas) has imposed over the past months, it has created an environment which jeopardizes the ability of nongovernmental organizations to provide assistance to Gaza's most vulnerable residents."

The official, who declined to be named, said Hamas had demanded access to files and records of NGOs, which would reveal financial and administrative information, details of staff members and information on beneficiaries.

He said that Hamas had shut down the International Medical Corps (IMC) an NGO and USAID partner organization, after its officials objected to "unwarranted audits".

"We are disappointed that Hamas has once again chosen to put its political agenda ahead of the welfare of the Palestinian people," the official said, calling on the group "to cease its interference ... so that we can resume our humanitarian and development activities in Gaza."

Palestinian-based NGOs funded by the European Union have in the past also complained of Hamas meddling in their affairs.
Hamas administration official Taher al-Nono said an understanding had been reached which would allow independent auditing teams to inspect the files of NGOs, but he added that Hamas had the right to monitor their work in the territory.

The IMC will be allowed to reopen its offices on Saturday or Sunday, he added.

Responding to the USAID decision to suspend its partner organizations' work, Nono said "Such a decision sounds odd a day after the understanding was reached ... we reject any foreign intervention in Palestinian affairs."

The US official said some 600,000 Gazans - about a third of the population of the coastal strip - were receiving some $98 million worth of assistance from USAID projects in health, education, construction and infrastructure.

The Hamas terrorist organization is the Gaza "government" - voted in by the Palestinians - "$98 MILLION" from the USAID is shameful!  Why it was allowed in the first place is a mystery, but for our Congress to allow millions of dollars in US aid to be sunk into an area ruled by terrorists is a crime. Does anyone in Washington have an ounce of common sense to stop this madness, or are you all attending Alice in Wonderland's tea party, headed up by the Mad Hatter?