Concern over Goal’s suspension from Syrian relief

The Government has demanded aid agency Goal clarify what caused a key US backer to suspend funding of its procurement programme in Turkey on foot of potential mismanagement concerns.

Concern over Goal’s suspension from Syrian relief

Irish Aid, the overseas aid arm of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said it was a cause for “serious concern” that USAID had suspended the programme through which emergency food supplies for Syria are procured.

“We have this morning demanded as a matter of urgency, a detailed report from Goal on the overall situation and on any implications for Irish Aid funding,” said a department spokesperson.

Irish Aid provided €17.2m in grant funding to Goal in 2014, for humanitarian programmes in several countries, including Syria.

Meanwhile USAID, the lead US government aid agency, issued a statement saying its inspector general had raised concerns about potential mismanagement “of some aspects of humanitarian aid programmes for Syria by an implementer based in Turkey”.

The “implementer” is understood to be Goal. USAID allocated more than €44m to Goal in 2014, the charity’s biggest single source of income in 2014.

USAID said an investigation was underway into the programmes identified by the Office of the Inspector General.

However, on RTÉ radio yesterday, Goal CEO Barry Andrews said Goal was “not under investigation”.

He said there was “a wider investigation involving a number of parties and as with any of these things we are limited in what we can say about it”.

He said they were “working on an hourly basis with USAID to have suspension of our procurement lifted”.

“I think all parties recognise that the humanitarian crisis that’s going on there [in Syria] requires every bit of energy we have to try and make sure that we continue to supply [emergency food supplies and non-food items],” Mr Andrews said.

He said they hoped to have the suspension lifted “in the very near term” and, in the meantime, they had been “making strides” with other agencies to have its procurement carried out in a different way. He said Goal had engaged accountants BDO to do an internal investigation “to find out whatever shortcomings or vulnerabilities we have in our procurement process”.

The USAID investigation, Mr Andrews said, was into “supply chain irregularities”, involving multiple parties, of which Goal was one. He said Goal had suspended its procurement programmes about eight days ago, before USAID indicated it should do so, but he conceded it was the US agency that brought the issue to its attention about a month ago.

However, he said other Goal programmes were continuing in Syria.

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