Afghanistan shuts down nearly 800 NGOs

Beneficiaries of an NGO working in Afghanistan. The country has shut down nearly 800 NGOs for failing to send their biannual reports to the Economy Ministry. Photo by: The Children of War / CC BY-ND

Is Afghanistan following in Egypt’s footsteps or is it simply implementing its laws?

For failing to send their biannual reports to the Economy Ministry, 600 local nongovernmental organizations and 195 foreign NGOs had to shutter their offices Wednesday (Jan. 18) in Afghanistan.

Economy Ministry Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal told RFE/RL, an independent multimedia news organization based in Prague, the closed NGOs — which have not been identified — either did not send their reports or committed other violations. He said NGOs that do not send their reports every six months for a period of two years are considered inactive.

The move was backed by Mohammed Hashim Mayar, adviser to Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an organization coordinating humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Mayar said the closed NGOs were “small” and “ineffective,” and their “liquidation” will have no effect on the Afghan people.

“They registered themselves so they could get money from donors. Once they couldn’t get funding they couldn’t function,” he said.

The Egyptian government raided offices of several NGOs in Cairo in December. Government officials defended the raids, saying they are legitimate operations part of investigations concerning alleged malpractices and illegal activities of some NGOs and civil society groups. Many, however, cast doubts on this reasoning.

Biannual reports are required by law in Afghanistan. They include the activities, progress and budgets of NGOs working in the country. The ministry said 1,715 local and 301 foreign NGOs have been closed since 2001 for breaking the law.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.