Charities Fade Away in Mosul

A sharp drop in the number of civil society organisations working in the city is blamed on poor funding, the insurgency and corruption.

Charities Fade Away in Mosul

A sharp drop in the number of civil society organisations working in the city is blamed on poor funding, the insurgency and corruption.

Friday, 18 November, 2005

More than half of all the non-government groups working on aid and reconstruction projects in the northern city of Mosul have closed their doors this year.

Non-government organisations, NGOs, flourished after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, as aid flowed into Iraq to help restore the country. In 2003, there were 84 NGOs, in Mosul, according to a study conducted by Muwafaq Waysee, head of the University of Mosul’s sociology department, and his colleagues. In 2004, the number rose as high as 116.

This year, there are only 54 of these groups left in Mosul, says Hassan Jasim, a doctoral student who did his sociology thesis on civil society.

Some of the NGOs have left the city because of cuts in their funding or because of the deteriorating security situation. Although local security forces regained control of Mosul from the insurgents a few months ago, violence has continued. On June 26, three suicide bombers killed more than 30 people.

But local officials said many of the NGOs closed or were shut down because they were in reality profit-making businesses operating under the guise of charities so as to win contracts and make money.

Waysee says some NGOs were the creation of political or other groups which had ulterior motives, “A majority were fronts for political or intelligence operations, while others were fake organisations set up to collect large amounts of money under the cover of relief and charity activities.”

He added that many of the fake NGOs had simply disappeared, and only a minority of the organisations operating in Mosul actually provided aid or services to the community.

An employee of one Mosul NGO, who spoke to IWPR on condition of anonymity, said the problem is that when international organisations provide funding to local groups, there is not enough oversight.

“The [international bodies] don’t really oversee who these people really are and they don’t follow up on where the money is going so the [local] organisations can manipulate the funds,” he said.

Ninewa deputy governor Layth Ahmed al-Othman said the fake NGOs affected the economic situation and rebuilding of Mosul, the capital of Ninewa governorate. “It’s a disaster because it deprives the country of reconstruction projects,” he said.

Hisham al-Hamdani, head of the security committee for Ninewa, said those who set up NGOs on spurious grounds were exploiting the current instability and chaos for financial gain. “They are selfish people who are robbing their country instead of serving it,” he said.

Waad Ibraheem is an IWPR trainee in Mosul.

Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq
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