Kenya shuts a record 510 charities, some for 'terrorism financing': Medecins Sans Frontieres faces closure over audit reports

The assets seized from the organisations would be redistributed to others working in the same areas.

KENYA on Tuesday closed over 500 non-governmental organisations, including 15 for alleged fundraising for terrorism, as part of a security crackdown following repeated attacks.

The government’s non-governmental organisation (NGO) coordination board said in a statement it had “de-registered 510 organisations for non-compliance with the law”, with some using their charitable status as a front for raising cash for terrorism.

“Some NGOs have been and continue to be used for criminal activities, including as conduits of terrorism financing in Kenya and in the Horn of Africa,” the statement read, which did not specify the names of such groups.

From the names of 510 listed, many appeared to be aid agencies and charities, with many closed for failing to provide financial audit returns.

Several appeared to be Christian organisations, orphanages, or organisations working in health and development.

“The board has with immediate effect de-registered these organisations, frozen their bank accounts and forwarded information on them to relevant government security agencies for immediate action,” it said.

Kenya’s government has been under pressure since last year’s attack by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, in which at least 67 people were killed.

Earlier this month Kenya’s interior minister and police chief were removed from their posts after the Shabaab carried out massacres in the northeast of the country.

The organisations were identified “in collaboration with security agencies both locally and internationally”, the statement added, without giving further details.

Assets seized would be redistributed to credible organisations working in the same areas, it said.

Kenyan lawmakers are currently deliberating proposals to boost security laws, criticised by some as being too tough and restricting freedoms.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, NGO  Board executive director Fazul Mahamed Yusuf said 12 NGOs with an income of more than Sh500 million (US$5.7m) and which have failed to file their audited reports as required by law, have been given 21 days to do so or their licenses would be revoked.

Among the organisations that have allegedly not so far complied, are Medecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), which has been one of the organisations leading the fight against the deadly Ebola pandemic in West Africa, Water for Life, Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, and Veterinaires Sans Frontieres Belgium.

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