JEREMY CORBYN has written to Theresa May demanding answers as to how foreign aid money ended up in the hands of sectarian armed groups in Syria.
The government has suspended the billion-pound Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) after Monday’s BBC Panorama programme reported allegations about money paid to contractor Adam Smith International (ASI).
The Labour leader’s letter asks the Prime Minister why the Department for International Development awarded ASI this work after freezing other contracts earlier this year.
He asks when Foreign Office ministers became aware of problems and why no action was taken and whether funds were channelled to Egypt and the Myanmar military.
Mr Corbyn also asks whether money was used to lobby UN representatives and others over human rights in Bahrain.
In the letter, he declares that the allegations of money having been diverted to the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front and having funded the Free Syrian Police’s work with a judicial system accused of summary executions and torture “is yet another blow to Britain’s reputation on the world stage.”
He says: “It is the responsibility of your government to ensure robust scrutiny and transparency processes are in place to prevent such grotesque abuses of UK aid money.
“Given the humanitarian crisis in Syria, with millions of Syrians internally displaced and millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, it is a real concern that your government has appeared to use aid funding to support sectarian division rather than humanitarian need.”
The foreign aid scheme should be completely shut down, campaigners from Global Justice Now said on Monday.
The group warned that money misspent in Syria could be “the tip of the iceberg” because funds were also funnelled into policing and military projects in 70 other countries, many with poor human rights records.