Humanitarian aid to Iraq costing U.S. taxpayers money

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Updated: 9/01/2014 11:48 pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. ( & KRNV) -- While the U.S. still determines whether it is possible to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, taxpayers continue to pay for many programs inside the Iraqi border.

Those dollars spent to foster better relations between the U.S. and Iraq, but given the resurgence of terrorism inside Iraq, some people question the need.

Countries around the world are sending humanitarian aid to Iraq. It is a response to violence by Islamic militants that is claiming lives and destroying the country.

"Germany is sending in aid, the British are sending in aid, the Kuwaiti's are sending in aid." said Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.S. has a goal of helping end the violence. "And to provide significant humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq at this very difficult time," said Kerry.

The State Department and USAID plan to spend $573 million of taxpayer money by year's end. That money would fund things like health, education, humanitarian assistance in Iraq. The program is important enough for the State Department to promote in Arabic, with the President's picture on the website.

All of this has caught the attention of government waste hawks like the National Taxpayers Union. The organization issued a statement, saying:

"Even the best-intentioned contracts can end in failure due to poor

oversight, unforeseen circumstances, or even corruption."

There are other non-military programs spending taxpayer dollars. The State Department issues what it calls diplomacy grants in Iraq. The agency's website says the program is designed to foster understanding between the U.S. and Iraq.

Eligible groups can apply for U.S. taxpayer dollars for such things as empowering women and youth, countering violent extremism, and fostering cultural ties.

The U.S. Embassy website that promotes the diplomacy grants says most of them will be $100,000 or less. But there are taxpayers who didn't know that program, or others related to Iraq even existed.

"Though my heart, you know, feels for what's taking place, you know, there in the country," said Byron Ransom. "I do feel like the tax dollars would be better served here."

The State Department has requested $300 million for 2015 to fund programs in Iraq.
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