Org Accused of Bid-Rigging, Bribery Pushes For Syrian Refugees In Asheville

Aid organization accused of bid-rigging, and bribery is pushing for Syrian refugee placement in Asheville, North Carolina according to Lady Liberty 1885. International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a humanitarian aid organization based in New York with a presence in 20 countries in Africa where it rebuilds communities, as well as ships refugees “almost exclusively to the United States.” The organization has been meeting with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and other stakeholders.

IRC is a federal contractor, paid with Americans tax dollars through grants to “place refugees in as many states as possible, including North Carolina,” which is currently ranked 9th in the nation for number of resettled Syrian refugees.

The article goes on to say that IRC’s 2014 tax filing contained a grant of over $51 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), over $40 million from the Department of Health and Human Services. Further, according to IRS filings, in 2016 IRC’s total revenue was $456,122,865. In 2014 its gross receipts grew to over $600,000,000.

IRC CEO David Miliband is a former British politician and member of the Labour Party, a center-left political party, now resides in New York. He receives a salary in in excess of $570,000.

Lady Liberty 1885 goes on to say that IRC is part of an ongoing investigation of multiple aid organizations for bribery and bid-rigging, and has had millions of pounds in funding withdrawn in the United Kingdom over the alleged misuse of funds. The organization is accused of allowing “corrupt operators in Turkey and Syria embezzle US taxpayers’ cash under the guise of helping victims of the region’s devastating civil war.”

USAID Inspector General’s office named IRC and two other charities in a report that alleges the organizations were involved in a “scam whereby aid workers swapped humanitarian supplies for inferior knock-offs, and kept the difference in price as a kick-back.” USAID has since withdrawn funds from the organization.

Citizen-Times reports, IRC Atlanta’s Executive Director JD McCrary said that the first household of refugees could come as early as next spring, with others arriving in ensuing twelve months. He went on to say that IRC “strives to provide refugees with furnished homes or apartments upon arrival,” whose goal “households to gain economic self-sufficiency within four to six months.”

The article states that IRC “provided $11.8 million in cash and asset transfers to more than 75,000 refugees and displaced households last year. In the United States, the agency helped resettle nearly 10,000 refugees in 2015.” The majority of the refugees are currently being resettled are Congolese, Bhutanese, Burmese, Afghani, and Iraqi, although there are likely to be more Syrians in the near future.

At the helm of the initiative in the Asheville area is Western North Carolina Refugee Challenge that started working with IRC several months ago. Founding member, Joanna Bliss of Brevard, said that there was ugly rhetoric and talk of closing borders, which became the impetus for her to take action. She said, “I heard that, and I thought, we have to change this conversation.”

Image via Western North Carolina Refugee Challenge