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July 27, 2016

Fraud Concerns Prompt U.S. to Freeze Some Syria Aid Contracts

The U.S. government has put more than $200 million in contracts for humanitarian aid to Syria on hold amid fears that corruption is draining money from relief efforts, reports The Washington Post. The aid freeze has affected delivery of food, medicine, and other life-saving supplies to Syrian civilians as authorities pursue an investigation the government formally announced in April.

Details of the review and its impact emerged in a Congressional hearing this month. The U.S. Agency for International Development has opened 25 investigations, and contracts worth $239 million have been suspended. Global aid charities GOAL, International Medical Corps, and the International Rescue Committee are among the groups under review. They said they are cooperating with investigators.

The case underscores the difficulty of supplying aid to war-torn regions where travel and delivery present manifold logistical and safety problems, the Post writes. “Bad characters have taken advantage of the complex situation for personal gain, ultimately denying Syrian people the food, clothing, health care, and other aid they urgently need,” Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID's inspector general, told the House foreign-affairs committee.