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US restarts work of aid groups in Gaza Strip

August 14, 2011 22:44

Hamas official confirms group allowed International Medical Corps to reopen, says demand to audit USAID-funded groups suspended.

Palestinian holds IRC sign outside Hamas headquart

Palestinian holds IRC sign outside Hamas_311. (photo credit:Reuters)

The United States on Sunday resumed the operations of the aid organizations it funds in the Gaza Strip after Hamas retracted its demand to scrutinize confidential documents about their work, a US official said.

On Friday, USAID partner organizations stopped work after Hamas closed one of the non-governmental organizations, the International Medical Corps (IMC), when officials there denied the terrorist group access to documents. It was allowed to reopen on Sunday.

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"As of Aug. 14, USAID's implementing partners have resumed delivering assistance to the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip," the official told Reuters.

The US official, who declined to be named, said allowing access to the records could revealed financial and administrative information and details of NGOs' staff and beneficiaries.

A senior Hamas official confirmed the group had allowed the IMC to reopen and added that it had suspended its demand to audit USAID-funded groups until a mechanism could be agreed.

Palestinian-based NGOs funded by the European Union have in the past also complained of Hamas meddling in their affairs. The US official based in the region had said the audits were unwarranted.

Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process said in a statement he welcomed the reopening of the IMC and "recognizes the important work of NGOs in Gaza and is confident that a way forward has been reached in the interest of the people of Gaza."

The US official said some 600,000 Gazans were receiving some $98 million worth of assistance from USAID projects in health, education, construction and infrastructure.
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