« »

Monday, 7 September 2009

US funds help Taliban

The US administration and Congress are investigating allegations that their funds and food sent to Afghanistan end up in the hands of the Taliban.

“The idea that American taxpayer dollars are ending up with the Taliban is a case for grave concern,” says Congressman Bill Delahunt.

Mr Delahunt, a Democrat member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has vowed to hold congressional hearings on the issue in autumn.

Separately, the US Agency for International Development is holding an inquiry into allegations that its funds for road and bridge construction in Afghanistan are ending up in the hands of the Taliban, through a protection racket for contractors.

The investigations followed a lead report in an online publication called the Global Post, revealing a process that allowed the Taliban to benefit from the US aid meant for rebuilding Afghanistan.

Other media reports said the Taliban had been benefiting from the US aid for years, taking advantage of a loose distribution system and the rampant corruption in Afghanistan.

According to these reports, Taliban groups operating in the rural areas of Afghanistan take a percentage of the billions of dollars Afghanistan receives from the United States and its allies.

They force large organisations and their subcontractors working on development projects in Taliban-infested areas to give them a certain percentage in return for protection.

“We are looking into this. We are always interested in fraud, waste and abuse,” said Dona Dinkler, the chief of staff for congressional affairs at USAID’s Office of Inspector General in Washington, said the Global Post.

But, she added: “It’s a real hard thing to prove. Who is going to survive to testify about that? That is our challenge. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. We want to get to the bottom of it.”

The USAID probe is under way in tandem with an inquiry by the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, whose members have raised concerns about fraud and abuse in the $7.5 billion in funds marked for Afghanistan between 2002 and 2009.

US lawmakers insist that a lack of oversight of US government spending in Afghanistan allows NGOs to share their funds with the Taliban in return for protection.

USAID has only one investigator in Afghanistan and two auditors tracking the billions of taxpayers’ dollars that go to NGOs.—Correspondent

No comments:

Post a Comment