The New York Post has a rather shocking look into the activities of NGOs in Iraq. It appears that many of these groups are more interested in looking busy and criticizing the US than in actually helping the Iraqi people.
After the official briefings on health, power, sewage, security and even subjects like animal welfare, you get to hear the long discussions of how the next meeting should be run: Certain topics must be highlighted; it’s important that there be "break-out" sessions. It’s there that you’ll hear every shortage here blamed on the Americans and their war, even though there were severe problems here before March 20.
"All they do is complain," said a colonel who attends these meetings. "And you know what, I’m getting school supplies here with the help of my church at home quicker than all these NGO guys. A lot of units here are doing the same.
‘All these guys do is talk, talk, talk. The only NGOs I’ve seen out here are the ICRC – and they’re driving around, not working. These guys are more bureaucratic than the Army!" (They’re also more secretive, excluding the media from their meetings and trying to keep them out of the CMCC sessions.)
NGOs have a reputation for being wonderful groups that provide valuable humanitarian aid. Some of them are. Some of them also are mainly political organizations that do little in terms of humanitarian relief. Nearly all of them are heavily bureaucratic and administered by people who are no more immune from the market forces that act on these groups than the CEOs of corporations. Donors to NGOs tend to be anti-American, so NGOs have to toe the anti-American line, even when they are supposed to be working with the American forces helping in the liberation of Iraq.
Furthermore, NGOs can often make the situation worse by creating more dependency on them than on the local government. Certainly many NGO operatives did not support the war and do not support the American transitional government. Some of them might even go so far as to do what they could to undermine its authority. This could have disastrous consequences as American forces attempt to stabilize Iraq for a democratic system later on.