GAO review puts US aid to Iraqi minority groups in question

The U.S. Agency for International Development said it has met the needs of internally displaced people and religious minorities in Iraq “to a greater extent” than was presented in a new report made public by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The report examines how the agency met Congress’ 2008 directive to provide at least $10M million to religious minorities and IDPs in Iraq’s Ninewa plains. Congress’ decision follows a series of attacks against them by Muslim extremist groups, including intimidation, abductions and killings.

The agency reported in 2011 that it has provided $14.8 million in response to the directive, including programs on private sector development and that of agribusiness and agricultural markets. But GAO said supporting documents only link 26 percent or $3.8 million of the assistance to the region. Further, it is not clear how much of these went to or benefited minority groups and IDPs.

In addition, USAID officials GAO interviewed revealed the agency did not use unobligated, prior-year funds under the Economic Support Fund for four programs. The 2008 directive specifically instructs the agency to use ESF funds for the assistance.

These weaknesses have prompted GAO to conclude that USAID could not demonstrate how it met the provisions under the directive.

But the GAO report did note that the aid agency and the Department of State were able to prove compliance with the 2008 supplemental and 2010 directives.

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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.