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Suspended Foreign Office aid programme in Syria

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Syria crisis

Today (Monday 4 December 2017), the BBC, Today Programme, Mail,  Times and other newspapers reported on a Foreign Office aid programme in Syria run by contractor Adam Smith International (ASI).

The Foreign Office has suspended this programme while they investigate the allegations that some money meant for the Civilian Police Force – Free Syrian Police – could have ended up in the hands of terrorist groups and that there were human rights abuses present in the programme. Details of the allegations will feature on BBC’s Panorama programme tonight.

DFID also works with ASI , but has no live contracts with them in Syria. While the programme featured on Panorama is not DFID funded, we fully support the FCO investigation.

Here is the Government’s response:

A Government spokesperson said:

We take any allegations of co-operation with terrorist groups and of human rights abuses extremely seriously and the Foreign Office has suspended this programme while we investigate these allegations.

These programmes, also supported by international partners, are intended to make communities in Syria safer by providing basic civilian policing services.

We believe that such work in Syria is important to protect our national security interest but of course we reach this judgment carefully given that in such a challenging environment no activity is without risk. That's why all our programmes are designed carefully and subject to robust monitoring.

The Government is committed to getting the very best results for the world’s poorest and value for taxpayers’ money with its international development spend. With all the Government's aid spend we are focused on achieving results, providing value for money, and ensuring it is transparent and accountable.

We have clamped down on the risk of profiteering, excessive charges and unethical practices by suppliers with the threat of legal repercussions for those who break these stricter rules.

ASI has voluntary withdrawn from DFID Procurement. DFID has not signed any new contracts or extended any existing contracts with ASI since allegations that ASI falsified submissions to the International Development Committee and made use of improperly obtained DFID documents for commercial gain came to light in December 2016.

DFID and the FCO continue to monitor closely the steps that have been taken by ASI to restore confidence in their ability to adhere to the high standards of integrity that the public rightly expect of all our contractors.

DFID has since completed a fundamental review of how it works with its suppliers, with tough new reforms introduced to clamp down on the risk of profiteering, excessive charges and unscrupulous practices. Specific reforms include:

  • A robust Code of Conduct to ensure the highest standards of ethical and professional behaviour by DFID suppliers, with legally enforceable sanctions.
  • Tougher scrutiny of costs and greater transparency by including new clauses in contracts to allow DFID to inspect costs, overheads, fees and profits of suppliers in detail.
  • Publishing annual league tables of supplier performance to name and shame those who are not delivering value for money.

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