Humanitarian aid or lack of oversight? EU-funded Palestinian civil servants don't work

An aid worker with the European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection helps locals refill a water tank in West Bank. A special report by the European Court of Auditors show that Palestinian civil servants collect their payment without doing their jobs. Photo by: ECHO / CC BY-NC-ND

The European Union, the top donor to the Palestinian territories, is paying the salaries of civil servants who don’t actually work in the Gaza Strip, EU auditors revealed on Wednesday.

According to a special report published by the European Court of Auditors, many Palestinian bureaucrats simply collect the money without performing their job. The report didn’t mention specific figures, but pointed how for instance 90 out of the 125 employees of the National Audit Institute in Gaza admitted they don’t show up to work.

The Gaza Strip has been controlled since 2006 by Hamas, an Islamist group considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States and opposed to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party in the West Bank. This split has been singled out as one of the possible causes of the mishandling of funds.

The report, which looked into about 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion) in funds spent by the European Union in the Palestinian territories over the past four years, raises serious concerns about the supervision of these disbursements, especially since another controversial audit published in June also put Brussels under the spotlight for mismanagement of development aid in Egypt both before and after the popular revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

However, both European Commission spokesman Peter Stano and Palestinian labor minister Ahmed Majdalani defended how the money was handled, arguing that it still served a humanitarian purpose.

What do you think? Do you consider this to be a legitimate form of humanitarian aid? Should the scheme continue? Please let us know by leaving a comment below or joining our LinkedIn discussion.

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    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

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