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  • 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 the United Kingdom, are primary funders of IRW.

UK Funding and Evaluation

  • In 2012 (the latest available information), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) awarded £1,400,000 to IRW.
  • In correspondence with NGO Monitor, DFID claimed, “Information on DFID’s funding provided to IRW in the financial year 2013-14 will be published in the next edition of Statistics on International Development, which will be available on the GOV.UK website in the autumn.”
  • DFID also refused to release substantive information (through the Freedom of Information process) on mechanisms used to ensure that its funds did not go to terrorism, citing “public” and “commercial” interests, and alleging that “disclosure of detailed sensitive information about our vetting processes could provide valuable intelligence to the perpetrators of crime.” (The crime was not specified.)
  • For the full correspondence between NGO Monitor and the DFID see Appendix A.

Given the serious nature of the allegations, and particularly in light of the current war with Hamas, the British government should immediately conduct a thorough review of Islamic Relief Worldwide, in cooperation with the relevant Israeli and other authorities, to ensure that UK taxpayer funds are not channeled to terrorist organizations.

Questions for DFID

  • In light of the serious allegations against IRW and its current status in Israel, is the British 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 British government assure both British and Israeli citizens that funding to IRW has not been channeled to terror groups?
  • What steps is the Charity Commission taking in light of the developments in Israel?

European government funding to Islamic Relief Worldwide:

SourceFunding MechanismAmount
UKDFID€1,400,000 (2012)
SwitzerlandSwiss Foreign Ministry€52,942 (2012)
EUEuropean Commission€2,169,340 (2012)
Sweden SIDASEK 24,000,000 (2013)
SpainAECID€243,942 (2012)