“So we’ve all got dirty laundry, to be brought up if they want to shut you down,” says the aid worker. “The fact is, it doesn’t matter how compliant we were, whether or not the law was clear or not, every single NGO working here has broken laws at some point. Some inadvertently. Some because there was no law in place to tell us how to do it, [like] the transfer of money.” 

dirty laundry:個人的な秘密・内輪の恥
compliant :人の要求を入れる・言いなりになる

After-effects of the coup
The restrictions on INGOs come as Turkey still reels from the aftermath of the coup attempt last July, which has seen a purge 140,000 Turks from government jobs, the arrest of nearly 50,000, and a state of emergency which enables closing any NGO without reason. 


The public vilification of INGOs intensified after the coup attempt. For example, the pro-government Sabah newspaper last August ran a story with the headline, “Foreign NGOs are fanning the flames of chaos.” It claimed that aid agencies crossed into Syria with “bags” of money to fund and divide Syrian opposition groups. 


This March, Sabah claimed INGOs were funneling cash to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria from Hatay province, with the assistance of cadres of Fethullah Gulen – the US-based cleric whom Turkey accuses of ordering last year’s coup attempt. 

“The aid agencies in Hatay are full of spies,” ran Sabah’s headline. The story claimed that INGOs were not trying to help people, but lay the groundwork for civil war in Turkey. 

“It’s not that they hate foreigners, but they worry about foreigners. They think that everyone is not doing good for Turkey,” says the Syrian who works with the aid community. The rules for work permits for Syrian staff have become clearer, he says, but weeks ago one local Syrian NGO delivering food applied for 30 work permits, and got only two. 

“Of course, no NGO can run with two people,” he says. NGOs “aren’t doing something bad; they are still helping people. Why are [Turks] making their work as difficult as it as difficult as it is now? There is no excuse for that.” 

Corruption investigations
Shutting down the INGOs and raising pressure on others has shaken the relief community, which senior Western relief workers say grew too fast the first years of the conflict, with uncommonly large US and EU-funded budgets applied in chaotic situations. 

Turkish officials and media have been given grist for complaint by the US Agency for International Development’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Since 2015 it has been investigating alleged fraud schemes that involve “bid rigging, collusion, bribery, and kickbacks,” which have led to the suspension of $239 million in program funds among four NGOs in southeast Turkey, according to OIG data released March 31. 


Three of those were identified as big players global organizations – IMC, the International Rescue Committee, and the Irish group Goal – in a May 2016 investigation by IRIN, a media venture once run by the UN that focuses on the relief world. 

IRIN noted that all three INGOs grew quickly as the Syria crisis took off. IMC funding more than doubled, for example, to $232 million, from 2011/2012 to 2014/2015. Goal’s funding for Syria leapt 94 percent from 2013 to 2014. 

Those increases mirror similar expansion by the UN, which saw the value of goods and services procured in Turkey alone jump from $90 million in 2012 to $339 million in 2014, reports IRIN. 

The impact is sizeable: Though the Inspector General’s office says that just one IMC staff member lost their job, IRIN reports that 800 people “involved in IMC contracts in Turkey” were let go because of the USAID aid suspension. “NGOs tend to think that we have this irrefutable positive impact,” says the senior Western aid worker in Gaziantep. 


Turks are “looking at what they see as a security threat in all these foreigners around, who maybe were or maybe were not spies, maybe were having an impact, maybe weren’t following the rules, maybe were helping the enemy,” says the aid worker. 

“Is it worth it to take all that risk to have 30 NGOs registered, of all shapes and sizes? Or is it better for them to narrow the field to ... 10 or 12 NGOs that have not really over-stepped in the ways that matter?” asks the aid worker. “I just think the Turks have said, ‘Enough.’ ” 




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