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Millions in French aid to Lebanon unaccounted for

France’s Court of Auditors has raised concerns about the spending of around 214 million euros on French aid sent to Lebanon between 2019 and 2021, Al-Akhbar reported on 27 June.

The French court has pointed out that “the vast majority of this aid was poured into NGOs that decided, after the port explosion, to bypass government institutions under the pretext of corruption.”

A report issued by the court states millions in aid that arrived in Lebanon through French civil organizations “was without documentation.”

The report refers to itself as a preliminary survey that “should be the beginning of a comprehensive process in monitoring government funds received in Lebanon” between 2019 and 2021.

It also highlights “the absence of official procedures for collecting data on the distribution of aid,” and questions “the effectiveness of financial control at the level of all French agencies and NGOs operating in Lebanon.”

Additionally, Al-Akhbar states that French government agencies, such as the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate of Defense and Security Cooperation, the French Treasury, and the French Embassy in Beirut, spent money on unspecified projects, the details of which are not mentioned the court’s report.

Another French government agency, the French Emergency and Support Center – tasked with distributing aid to populations in need – has reportedly listed the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as an NGO, and has given it funds to implement projects in the country “without specifying their nature.”

The report highlights that France does not support local NGOs, and instead relies on international or French NGOs.

Eighty-five percent of foreign aid sent to Lebanon is received through UN agencies and international NGOs.

Additionally, western donor countries, among them the US, France, and the UK, maintain control over the Lebanese aid sector and fund projects of their choosing, while local organizations are usually excluded from foreign funding.

As the French court looks into the possible mismanagement of humanitarian funds by these agencies, Lebanon recently avoided being put on a grey list by a Paris-based money laundering watchdog.

Source : Thecradle