Union of Agricultural Work Committees

Media release

31 May 2012

An AusAID examination has concluded there is no evidence to support claims by the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) that funding through World Vision Australia to a Palestinian NGO, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) was in violation of section 21 of the Charter of the United Nations Act, 1945.

The claims relate to alleged links between UAWC and a proscribed terrorist organisation, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Senator Carr said he would be as swift as anyone in cutting aid to any organisation that was a front for terrorists.

"But this organisation is officially registered in Israel itself.

"It is not banned by Israel or declared a terrorist organisation by the Israelis.

"Taking into account the thorough nature of AusAID's examination and advice from AGS that no offence has been identified, the AFP has advised it would not accept this matter for further investigation."

Senator Carr said that the work of World Vision helps raise Palestinians from hunger and poverty.

"That can only reduce the capacity of terrorists to win recruits."

The UAWC has received support from a number of donor governments and international aid organisations including Oxfam (Great Britain, Italy, Belgium), Norwegian People's Aid, FAO, the Japanese Government, the Netherlands Government, the European Union, Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children.

The UAWC has helped deliver plant and seedling nurseries to provide food security and help more than 1,000 low-income households in the West Bank and Gaza.

Aid to the UAWC commenced under the Howard Government in 2005 and was renewed by then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said the Israel Law Center had provided information to AusAID on April 11, 2012 in support of its claim.

"I understand the material provided by the Israel Law Center has been carefully examined by AusAID in consultation with other agencies including the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation," Senator Carr said.

Since 1996 UAWC has been registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Israeli Ministry of Justice. This registration was most recently renewed on 5 March 2012.

Regular reporting by UAWC and World Vision, and regular monitoring by AusAID, confirm that appropriate due diligence and fiduciary risk management processes are being implemented by World Vision.

This provides direct assurance that project funding from AusAID through World Vision is not being used to support terrorists but is being spent on agreed, high priority development activities.

Media enquiries