Military coup officials embezzle funds from NGOs

Since last October’s military coup, Sudanese state ministers and officials have resorted to bureaucratic procedures to make profits and try to interfere with international NGOs’ procurement, according to aid workers, experts and UN agencies.

AlTaghyeer: Agencies

Paula Emerson, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, told Devex that new bureaucratic procedures have been introduced that sometimes require aid agencies to pay extra fees.

The UN official said that state-level authorities have been specifically asking for more “fees and incentives” from international NGOs.

Emerson said however that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs does not know how much money is being paid or what it exactly is needed for.

She explained that when reporting expenses, INGOs usually list a number representing all “overhead or operating costs” without specifying the amount of each item or fee.

According to Devex’s website, experts say that the international community – donor countries, international NGOs and UN agencies – must jointly respond to corruption in a country where nearly half of its 44 million population is expected to need humanitarian assistance due to lack of food security this year.

The country director of an international NGO, which operates in several states in Sudan, told Devex that many aid organizations were reluctant to reject these new requests because they may lose access or get expelled from the country.

He noted that military intelligence officers are being re-stationed in state offices to reassert their presence and control relief work.

Devex learned of a recent incident in which military intelligence prevented all international NGOs from accessing conflict zones in Darfur as a result of one NGO being unable to transport wounded soldiers due to the unavailability of a driver.

The country director said, “Overnight, [Military Intelligence] can stop you… This is just an example that if they want to block access to [humanitarian aid], they will block it.”

New Fees

Aid workers and UN agencies reported to Devex that there was always a fee built into the technical agreement that each international NGO must sign with the relevant federal and state ministry before starting any project.

However, ever since the coup, many aid workers have said they were unsure whether the new fees required of international NGOs were included in the technical agreements they had signed.

They cited a clause in their agreement that in theory requires State Department officials and the Humanitarian Aid Commission to conduct an annual evaluation of INGO projects – a process UN agencies were exempt from.

The annual assessment had not been implemented for the past two years, but was however swiftly resumed following the 25th October coup.

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