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Irish charity GOAL under US investigation for alleged mismanagement in Syria

The USAID agency has put some of its funding for GOAL on hold, pending the probe.

IMG_1031 Source: GOALglobal.org | An international aid charity

Updated: 1.06 pm

THE IRISH CHARITY GOAL has been hit by an official US government investigation into aspects of the largest operation in its history, TheJournal.ie can reveal.

Some funding from the US government’s foreign aid agency USAID has been suspended, after the agency uncovered potential improprieties in procurement practices in Syria, involving the charity.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, which also funds GOAL through Irish Aid, has said the situation is a matter of “serious concern”, and has demanded an urgent report from the charity.

A spokesperson for GOAL confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the probe had to do with “alleged supply chain irregularities relating to US sponsored aid programmes in Syria”.

Pending the outcome of the investigation, US funding for aspects of GOAL’s Syria aid programme (emergency food and non-food items), has been suspended.
…GOAL is cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure that all funding intended for humanitarian support is being applied to that end by all parties.

The spokesperson added, however:

GOAL continues to support hundreds of thousands of people in Northern Syria through the provision of water and sanitation facilities, the provision of vouchers and through our agriculture and livelihoods programmes.

In 2012, GOAL began providing food assistance and clean water to hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced by the civil war there, which began there in 2011.

The charity describes its Syrian operation as “the largest in GOAL’s history”.

The following year, the Irish charity signed a €2.5 million contract with USAID for the provision of food and non-food items like blankets.

Our programme in Syria is the largest in our history Source: GOALglobal.org | An international aid charity

USAID (the US Agency for International Development) was by far the Irish charity’s biggest single source of income in 2014, the most recent year for which financial information is available.

That year, the agency gave GOAL €44.5 million in grant funding – the biggest contribution by any donor, and 35% of GOAL’s entire income that year.

Between 2009 and 2014, USAID provided a total of €110 million in grant funding for the Irish charity.

A spokesperson for the agency told TheJournal.ie:

The USAID Office of Inspector General (OIG) has raised concerns about potential mismanagement of some aspects of humanitarian aid programs for Syria by an implementer based in Turkey.
An investigation is under way for the programs identified by the OIG.

GOAL provides humanitarian assistance in 17 countries across the world, and has had contracts with the Irish, UK, Dutch, German and US governments as well as the EU, UN and large non-profit organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Oxfam.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, through Irish Aid, provided €17.2 million in grant funding to GOAL in 2014, for humanitarian programmes in several different countries, including Syria.

In a statement this afternoon, a spokesperson for the Department told TheJournal.ie it had demanded a report from GOAL on what it called a “cause for serious concern.”

The issues raised by the suspension of funding by the US Government of Goal’s procurement in Turkey of emergency food supplies for Syria are a cause for serious concern.
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.

GOAL CEO and former Fianna Fáil junior minister Barry Andrews told RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland that the charity was “working on an hourly basis with USAID” to arrange for the suspension of funding to be removed, and that it had appointed BDO to conduct an investigation.

We suspended our own programme before USAID indicated that we should suspend our procurement, and that happened about eight days ago.

Comments have been disabled for this article, due to an ongoing US government investigation.

Originally published: 11.35 pm Thursday

Read: Two GOAL workers seriously injured in Syria, one critical>

Read: GOAL signs €2.5 million deal with US for Syrian aid>

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Dan MacGuill

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