- The Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is an international organization based in the UK, with offices in Gaza and the West Bank, ostensibly working as an “international relief and development charity.”
- On June 19, 2014, Israel’s Defense Minister declared IRW to be illegal, based on its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas, and banned it from operating in Israel and the West Bank. (Hamas is a designated terror organization by Israel, the U.S., EU, and Canada.)
- Media sources have reported that the decision was made after “the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW.”
- According to its financial reports, European governments, including Switzerland, are primary funders of IRW.
Funding and Evaluation
- In 2012, Switzerland awarded £52,942 to IRW.
- Due to a lack of transparency, it is not clear whether Switzerland has continued to fund IRW in 2013 and 2014.
- The Swiss Development Cooperation Agency (SDC), the governmental body responsible for foreign aid, did not respond to NGO Monitor’s inquiry concerning Swiss funding for IRW and evaluation reports pertaining to the activities of the subsidized organization.
- For the full correspondence between NGO monitor and the SDC see Appendix A.
Given the serious nature of the allegations, and particularly in light of the current war with Hamas, the Swiss government should immediately conduct a thorough review of Islamic Relief Worldwide, in cooperation with the relevant Israeli and other authorities, to ensure that Swiss taxpayer funds are not channeled to terrorist organizations.
Questions for the Swiss government
- In light of the serious allegations against IRW and its current status in Israel, is the Swiss government planning to open an investigation into the activities of IRW?
- The diversion of foreign aid to terror activities in Gaza has emerged as a central element in the conflict. How will the Swiss government assure both Swiss and Israeli citizens that funding to IRW has not been channeled to terror groups?
European government funding to Islamic Relief Worldwide
|Switzerland||Swiss Foreign Ministry||€52,942 (2012)|
|EU||European Commission||€2,169,340 (2012)|
|Sweden||SIDA||SEK 24,000,000 (2013)|
Correspondence between NGO Monitor and the Swiss Government
NGO Monitor letter to the Swiss Development Cooperation office*
June 19, 2014
Dear Ms. Ruder,
On June 19, Israel’s Minister of Defense signed a warrant declaring the NGO Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) as illegal, based on information regarding the involvement of this organization in terrorism.
The Swiss government is reported as a partner/funder (2012) in the reports of the IRW. NGO Monitor is preparing a report on the relationships between theIRW and its governmental donors and partners, and we would appreciate your responses to the following questions:
1. Did the government of Switzerland provide any funding to IRW in 2013 or 2014? If so, in what amounts?
2. What mechanisms are used to ensure that funding or cooperation with the IRW is not linked to terrorist activities or incitement to violence? Please provide documentation or links to specific reports or evaluations.
3. In addition to any funding, what other forms of cooperation have taken place between the government of Switzerland and the IRW between 2012 and 2014?
In order that we can complete our report in a timely manner, the deadline for responses is 26 June.