Polman: How Private Donors Can Prevent Feeding War Regimes

How can private donors avoid having the money they provide to humanitarian groups from being diverted to other causes?

“Question them [aid groups] about their own knowledge about the country and about their knowledge about a goal for that country… And if you’re not convinced, maybe find another good cause; there are millions and millions of people on this planet who could do with a little help,” the Think Big blog quotes author and journalist Linda Polman.

The multibillion dollar aid industry has made humanitarian crises worse as emergency aid has served as funding sources for rebel regimes, Polman wrote in  her book “With Friends Like These (De crisiskaravaan) - The untold story of humanitarian aid operations in war zones,” as Devex reported earlier this year.

>> Polman: Aid Industry Perpetuates Humanitarian Crises

Darfur in particular has a “sophisticated military regime” that charges aid groups for their work in the region, Polman told Think Big.

“For every single person that works for aid organizations, for every single kilo of rice, aid organizations are forced to pay what they call, ‘taxes,’” she told the Big Think blog. “So the military regime there is actually cashing in on a lot of aid organizations for quite large amount of money. That money goes towards the war effort of the military regime of Darfur and is actually being used for the ethnic cleansing and the genocide taking place in Darfur.”

Polman added that the situation is similar in Afghanistan and in Somalia, where the U.N. Security Council recently found that a portion of aid spent by the World Food Program in the country is diverted.

>> Scandals Plague UN Somalia Operations

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.