VG: Millions in Norwegian aid to Lebanon disappeared due to poor exchange rates

KronerPhoto: Gorm Kallestad / NTB
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At least NOK 32 million that was supposed to help vulnerable people in Lebanon in 2020 disappeared due to poor exchange rates, according to calculations made by the newspaper VG.

According to VG’s calculations, the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the World Food Program (WFP) have lost an average of 50.2% on the exchange rates used for aid in 2020, compared with the market rate.

The newspaper has been given access to an email sent from the Norwegian embassy in Beirut in June last year, which warns of the danger of reputational risk for donors due to the problem. The warning came after the news agency Reuters revealed that at least USD 250 million in UN aid funds had disappeared due to poor exchange rates.

“The risk is not lessened by the funds ending up in the banking sector, which is largely to blame for the crisis the country is in,” it is stated in the email.

Exchange rate challenges

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told VG that they have not calculated a possible currency loss and thus do not know whether development assistance money has disappeared. 

However, communications adviser Guri Solberg confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the challenges associated with various exchange rates for development aid in the country.

VG has calculated how much Norwegian aid through the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the World Food Program may have been lost by compiling information on market prices for currency compared with information on the rates the aid organizations have received according to a WFP report and other sources. 

The calculation indicates that NOK 32 million was lost in 2020.

Source : © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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