Updated: Jul 2, 2021
Corrupt Practices in Turkey Leads to Suspension of U.S. Aid to Syria
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing corrupt practices, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has suspended 14 entities and individuals involved with humanitarian aid programs operating from Turkey, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
“As the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that relief aid reaches those in need,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “That is why the Assembly is renewing its call for $15 million to Armenia for refugees resettling there from Syria,” added Ardouny.
“USAID OIG’s investigation has identified corrupt practices involving a number of these programs operating from Turkey,” according to a May 6 statement from USAID OIG. “The investigation to date has identified a network of commercial vendors, NGO employees, and others who have colluded to engage in bid-rigging and multiple bribery and kickback schemes related to contracts to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria.”
The same day, Human Rights Watch (HRW) identified Turkish border guards shooting and beating Syrian asylum seekers trying to reach Turkey. Between March and April 2016, Turkish border guards used violence against Syrian refugees, killing five people – including a child – and seriously injuring 14 others.
“While senior Turkish officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them,” HRW Senior Refugee Researcher Gerry Simpson said. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling.”
As conditions worsen along the border in Turkey, Armenia remains dedicated to accepting Syrian refugees, with over 20,000 to date. “As a host country, Armenia has been absolutely exemplary in terms of the ratio of welcomed Syrian-Armenian refugees to the number of native inhabitants,” United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth said. According to The Economist, Armenia has taken on the third largest number of refugees in Europe as a proportion of its population.
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) reported yesterday that Armenia “stands out as a rare example of integration” and refugees are “welcomed by ordinary people and supported by the Yerevan government.” The Assembly urges the U.S. government to consider allocating at least $15 million in refugee assistance to Armenia. The Assembly continues to encourage Armenian Americans to contact Congress and ask them to support the Armenian government’s efforts in offering a safe and stable environment for the refugees escaping from Syria.
On March 24, the Assembly submitted the same appeal in testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, recommending that from the Administration’s proposed budget of nearly $3 billion for migration and refugee assistance, at least $15 million be allocated for Armenia.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.