Director of Islamic Relief UK Tried to Delay Emergency Food Aid to Somalia

Islamic Relief UK

I had travelled to East Africa as a journalist working for Islamic Relief, along with another journalist, Darrell Williams, we were responsible for collecting media material for the different Islamic Relief offices and for any news organisations to use.  This is my account of what I witnessed during my time with Islamic Relief.

During the devastating famine that struck Somalia last year, the Director of Islamic Relief UK, Jehangir Malik, attempted to delay emergency food distribution to starving Somalis.

Jehangir Malik had traveled to East Africa with an ITN cameraman. His plan was to get coverage of Islamic Relief’s aid work in Somalia broadcast on UK television, to show potential donors that the organisation was doing good work, and to encourage them to give money so that many more Somalis could be saved.

What was essential, as far as Jehangir was concerned, was for him to be present at a pre-planned distribution of food aid. This was so he could be filmed not only to show that Islamic Relief was doing vital work, but so he could also carry the authority of someone who had been to the country and seen the horror first hand. It would be easier to get money from donors if they knew the person asking for their money really knew what they were talking about – or so the thinking went.

But Jehangir faced a dilemma when it was time to leave Nairobi airport in Kenya; the plane had been overbooked, and only one seat remained. The small group of Islamic relief employees stood at the check in, trying to agree who would take the last seat, and who would have to wait and catch the next flight in two days time.

The problem for Jehangir was that the food aid distribution he so desperately wanted to get to was scheduled to take place that very day, whilst he stood, helplessly at the airport. At first, he suggested that out of all of us, he should be the one to take the last seat. We all knew that the head of Islamic Relief’s aid mission in Somalia, Dr Ifikhar Ahmed, should be the one to fly out first – he ran the aid effort after all, whilst Jehangir was merely a fundraiser.  It was decided that Dr Iftikhar should be the one to take the final seat.

That is when Jehangir turned to Dr Iftikhar and asked if we could delay the emergency food distribution until he got there. Dr Iftikhar went quiet as he considered Jehangir’s question. Jehangir repeated it, but this time said “delay the food distribution until I get there.”  I was shocked by his initial question and stood there in disbelief, watching what was taking place before my very eyes.  Dr Iftikhar was clearly under a lot of pressure.  He needed money for Islamic Relief’s aid effort in Somalia and Jehangir was the man with his hands on the purse strings – he potentially had access to millions of pounds in fundraising revenue.  As the silence lingered, and with Dr Iftikhar contemplating what to do, I had to speak up. My job was to collect media material of the work the organisation was doing in Somalia – but I was not prepared to have vital food aid delayed just to get media material.  I told Dr Iftikhar to carry on with the food aid distribution and ignore Jehangir’s outrageous demand.  Darrell Williams spoke out too and also added that we would just have to settle for whatever media material we could get. We were not prepared to put lives at risk for the sake of some pictures and video footage of Jehangir, even if it was for his fundraising campaign.  After all, there was a famine taking place, and helping people was the primary goal here, not public relations.

To this day, I cannot say with certainty whether the food distribution was delayed or not.

We were shocked by Jehangir’s words, but he seemed unrepentant in his quest for PR.  Once we eventually got a flight to Somalia – two days after the Nairobi airport incident – his mission to be seen as the saviour of the Somali people continued.

At the first IDP camp we visited in Mogadishu – which was full of people that had left their homes in the famine effected region – Jehangir set about looking for a malnourished child. It was the kind of image he needed to ram home the message to people in the UK just how bad the famine was. Once he had found an appropriate candidate he sat down, turned to the camera that the ITN cameraman was wielding, and began a monologue about the child’s plight. This first piece of media material was never used.

After walking around the camp we soon came across Abdullahi, a severely malnourished child. Jahangir asked to be filmed and again began another monologue. Abdullahi was in a clearly critical condition. I asked Jehangir and Dr Iftikhar what they were going to do for this child? They had no answer.  Saving anyone wasn’t part of the plan. This “trip” was just so we could look around and bear witness to the suffering all around us, and there sure was plenty of suffering for us to see. There were people living in make shift tents and poorly erected huts, no sanitation, no clean water, and very little food.

Later on that day Jehangir would tell the worlds’ media that he saved this child’s life by ‘immediately’ taking him to hospital.  But the truth is very different.

Jehangir left Abdullahi in the camp. He still wanted his picture taken at a food aid distribution, and there was another one scheduled to take place that very day, and he wasn’t about to miss it.  Abdullahi wasn’t taken to the hospital ‘immediately’ because we were unable to take him. He wasn’t taken because, like I said, we hadn’t come to save anybody.

But on our way to the food aid distribution we were told that the security situation had deteriorated at the location where it was to take place, and that the distribution had been cancelled. Fights had broken out. The sheer desperation of people wanting to feed their families had resulted in violence. That’s when Jehangir said “let’s go back (to the camp) and you can film me saving the child.”

Our team headed back to the camp.  When we got there, Abdullahi was not taken to the hospital ‘immediately’. This was Jehangir’s exclusive. For the first time he had managed to get UK news on board for his PR agenda to promote Islamic Relief.  But at what cost?

Abdullahi’s mother was taken from her tent with her severely malnourished son in her arms, but instead of taking them straight to our vehicle that was parked in the camp with the doors open, and the engine still running, Abdullahi’s mother was made to sit down in the baking sun as other residents took shelter under the shade.

Jehangir’s ITN cameraman wanted her and Abdullahi to pose for the camera so he could capture the image of their complete and utter desperation. I asked Darrell to start filming this because I found it incredibly unethical and wanted to have a record of it.  In our video, you can clearly hear Darrell say “Let’s get her in the car, what have we got her standing there for?!”

You can hear the engines of our vehicles running in the background, waiting, as Jehangir got the vital shots that would allow him to get his exclusive.  At the end of our video you can see a member of Islamic Relief’s Board of Trustees, Dr Alfy, a few metres away from this despicable incident. He watched all of this unfold before his very own eyes.  Later, he denied all knowledge of the incident.  I expected more from a trustee of the organisation, someone who has the responsibility of overseeing and ensuring that it is run properly.  But as I was learning very quickly that PR took precedence over everything else.  Abdullahi was eventually taken to hospital but not before all the media material had been obtained.

I raised these issues with Jehangir in Somalia and in Kenya.  He didn’t seem to care about his actions.  He responded dismissively, and instead, preferred to question my role in the organisation.

In Somalia we saw immeasurable suffering. Dead children and others on the brink of death; parents who had sometimes lost all of their children; starving families cramped together in makeshift shelters right next to urine and faeces.  As I became acquainted with the Islamic Relief aid workers on the ground in Somalia – the ones who were actually involved in saving lives, as opposed to raising funds – they began to share their thoughts with me.  They told me that the constant visitors they were receiving in Somalia from Islamic Relief’s fundraising offices around the world were slowing down the emergency relief effort. Their vital time, which should have been spent doing life saving work, was being wasted taking visitors around, just to take a look at the effects of the famine – a phenomena better known as “disaster tourism”.

I raised all these issues with my boss at the time, the Director of Communications at Islamic Relief Worldwide, when I returned to the UK.  Darrell and I also wrote a report detailing what we had seen in Somalia. We sent our report to the then CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide, Saleh Saeed, who is now set to become CEO of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) in September.

Our report was ignored.  Saleh read through it, but did not say anything.  The issue was clear; Jehangir, as head of Islamic Relief UK, brought in millions of pounds of fundraising money that helped the organisation to operate. These ethical concerns were nothing in the face of all that cash and Jehangir’s OBE.

In our report we highlighted the suggestion of delaying emergency food aid, the effects of disaster tourism on the aid effort in Somalia and, more importantly, the effect on the very people that the organisation was meant to be helping.

At one point, I asked the head of Islamic Relief Worldwide’s aid response in Africa how many visitors had gone to Somalia since the start of the crisis there. His response? “Definitely over a hundred”. A conservative estimate of how much it cost to send one person to Somalia at the time is £2000. Overall, that comes to £200,000 of donors money, spent on people whose only job was to witness the effects of the famine, and sometimes, to report back what they had seen to others in an attempt to raise more funds for the aid effort. It’s absurd. I’m not sure donors know this, especially when they congratulate themselves on raising £50,000 in one evening, oblivious that they are funding a sort of deranged holiday for disaster tourists.

This however was not the only incident that took place that made me realise how unethical the drive to raise funds could be. After my trip to Libya to collect media material I flagged up another issue. Again I co-authored a report with Darrell which was sent to the CEO Saleh Saeed.

We pointed out that a prominent fundraiser from Islamic Relief UK had tweeted that Islamic Relief had been distributing medical aid and water in Tripoli even though he knew full well that this was not the case. He had been with us in Tripoli and knew that Islamic Relief, at the time, was not distributing any aid in the capital.  He lied just to give the impression that Islamic Relief was doing something when in reality it wasn’t. During the conflict in Libya Islamic Relief UK had a large number of Libyans from Tripoli living in Britain who were pressuring them to do something for the people in the city they came from. This pressure must have been too much to bear for someone who had already asked these Libyans for money, and received their donations. Thankfully, staff at Islamic Relief Worldwide complained and had the tweets removed, along with pictures I had taken of the National Transitional Council (NTC) giving out water in Tripoli.

None of the issues I raised were ever addressed. Instead, when Jehangir took over as Director of Communications at Islamic Relief Worldwide ( which effectively made him my boss), he refused to renew mine and Darrell’s contracts, which put an end to our time at Islamic Relief.

After exhausting all the internal channels of raising this issue, before and after the termination of my employment, I was left with no other choice but to go public after the new CEO, Dr Ashmawey, failed to address my ethical concerns.

For some people, the story I have just told may not be shocking; for others, they may not see anything wrong with the actions of Jehangir and his organisation at all, but I did find these actions unethical, and deeply distressing. The media and aid agencies in general have a mutually dependent relationship when it comes to humanitarian disasters: the agencies grant them access to areas and stories, whilst journalists promote the agencies and their work.  All the while, journalists turn a blind eye, not only to their own unethical practices, but to the unethical practices of the aid agencies too.  One journalist I spoke to remarked that “I am guilty of attending food distributions that felt like a media circus.”

That is why so many in the media will see what I have said as nothing new. People in the media and the humanitarian sector know full well that these kinds of practices are common and widespread. The only thing I can do is share what I have experienced and let people make up their own minds about whether these actions are acceptable or not.

Islamic Relief: PR before saving lives – watch video on YouTube

61 thoughts on “Director of Islamic Relief UK Tried to Delay Emergency Food Aid to Somalia

  1. Thank you. Thank you for being compassionate and ethical when so many are are to busy worrying about themselves. We have spoken before about how aspire me to be a better person and this article proves I was right :) glad there are people like you in this world to share the truth with the rest of us. Don’t ever change.

  2. I think the role of the media is vital in raising funds. It is footage like that of Abdullahi that will bring funds in to help those in need. As unethical as it may seem, the media needs to get those ‘money shots’; its only when the public see the real horrors of what goes on in Sudan and other countries facing famine and wars that huge sums are raised. Surely what Jahangir was doing was getting the most emotive footage that would mean continued support for Islamic Relief. People can sometimes get things wrong, perhaps lessons can be learned moving forward….but the negativity from your blog post / report, may actually harm people like Abdullahi as people may decide not to donate…..and that’s a tragedy!

    • Beg to differ with you sir. you have totally kissed the point. Negativity? I pray you or your near ones never experience the bitter side of life as Abdullah, his family and millions are on almost a daily basis. Yes, the donors give money when they feel the pain… but what the writer is trying to highlight and what you dont seem to give a hoot is the ethical side of humanitarian practices. When you didnt rush the child to hospital dont claim that you did. When you didnt feed the hungry in libya don’t publicly lie that you did. When you pull opabdullah’s mother out in the sorching heat, do seek her permission first. Do let her know that you are not here to help her right away. Do tell her why you are here and produce the video shoot only if she agrees with it. Give her a choice, her unfortunate circumstances and your job as a humantarian service provider dos not give you the authority to treat her and many othrs as an object or a symbol of pitty. Would you let this happen to a relative? Where are your values of campassion? Is this the interpretation of compassion, excellence and other values the organization professes? Delay food distribution for 2 days, just to get a video shoot – even if someone dies? Simp,y beyond comprehension.

  3. ^ so it’s ok to delay food for the ‘money shot’ while thousands die?

    Jehangir is and was there to build his own reputation and nothing else. You do not put malnourished kids in use for a money shot regardless off the money it makes. And it seems that’s the only point you have picked out.

  4. Assed mate- can’t you see what you’ve done! The publicity raised from that shot of the dying kid would have encouraged more people to donate money, which would have been used to get more shots of dying kids, which would have created more publicity and more money in turn.

  5. Its a shame that you bring this to the attention of others while failing to use the opportunity to say how would you go about doing it ethically? Does your solution produce lesser results whilst remaining ethical?
    Some obvious questions for you if I may….
    Why didnt you take young Abdullahi
    Why did you only go public after not having a renewed contract
    have you experience of successful fundraising?

  6. I was not in charge. Jehangir was running the show. I would not have made Abdullahi and his mother pose in the camp, I waited for Islamic Relief to sort out the issue first. I did not go public straight away. I raised the issues when I worked there, but when they just ignored the ethical concerns I had no choice. Yes I have fundraised before, successfully

  7. It seems as though there is more than what meets the eye in this Article.

    Assed Baig himself is an ex-employee of Islamic Relief. Who’s post was terminated, he has been piping on about how he will release something in the future to bring a stain on his ex-employees for a while now on his Facebook.

    As a ‘journalist’ this piece is written in such a manipulative and biased way, and it is clear that his words of discontent are aimed solely at Jahangir Malik, whom he clearly has a problem with.

    There are no other names who can verify what Mr Malik said, and so the only evidence we have to go on is Mr Baig’s account of the situation, a man already on a vengence against Mr Malik for terminating his post in Islamic Relief.

    This looks to me nothing more than a spiteful attempt at defaming the name of Jahangir Malik and in turn Islamic Relief.

    Correct me is I am wrong?

  8. You’re wrong. Darrell was the other journalist there. Where are you posting from the IR offices? You can brush aside all the ethical issues that I have raised, if you want. Is your comment damage control? Trying to discredit me to cover up and distract from what actually happened.

    You need to come back with something better than that.

  9. The mud-slinging against Assed , specifically that he was sacked and then raised the issues, would be more believable if Assed hadn’t raised the issue whilst still an employee. In fact contrary to your attempts to embarrass him, he was sacked because he brought it up.

  10. African as always been used as cash cow by charities. Look on TV BBC, CNN, SKY, ALJeezera etc. Africa is depicted as an epitome of extreme poverty. I am not surprised but what sadden me most though is being an Islamic organisation using mothers and children as their material for their selfish charity propanganda. Islanic encourage charity but should only be between you, the person you helping and Allah. It is obvious that charity is done these days for matterial gains not for the hereafter. If there should be any group of people or society that should be selfless towards charity and save lives it should be muslims particularly an organisation that carries Islamic name. Islam is clear however it is ironic how muslims make use teaching of their own religion. Shame on Islamic Relief

  11. I have no idea what happened in this particular case but as a journalist who has travelled the world with a number of Muslim aid agencies I am not surprised by this article. I feel that aid agencies have turned into businesses with highly paid staff and a propensity to squander the publics money through a mixture of greed and incompetence. There may be honourable exceptions but I don’t know of them. I would never give a penny of my money to Muslim aid agencies and I feel that they abuse religion and the goodwill of the public. It’s a tough call whether to go public or not because these agencies do some good but on balance wrongdoing needs to be exposed, especially if it leads to unnecessary suffering, squandering of public money and a loss of moral compass.

  12. Unique charity fundraising program: “I WILL NOT LIE ON YOU”, wow, unbelievable, can’t imagine, unprecedented.

  13. These people have to be helped, but we need to put more time to fight the cause of the problem not the result. Capitalism is greed we need to end it.

  14. Ask me about prominent IR staff busying themselves in inflating their own ego. Whoever you are Assed Baig and however true what you document is or isn’t, I too have my fair share of issues with this organisation. And that’s dealing with them first hand. However in my case they weren’t interested in the thousands of pounds worth of revenue being put on the table for this ‘charity’. I do not know what senior staff in that place get paid for. & when I finally get enough time I too will document my grievances.

  15. Islamic relief undoubtedly do a great amount of good work around the world, but they also have a duty to act responsibly with public donations and act ethically. We shouldn’t stop donating to charities because of this but we should be asking more questions of the people we entrust with our donations. There needs to be more transparency and accountability.
    Now I’m not going to question Mr Maliks intention as to why he did what he did, whether it was to glorify his image and reputation or it was actually for the greater good and the bigger picture. Id like to think it was the latter at least. Nonetheless, these events should not have occurred as they did. I don’t feel that doing a a little wrong justifies doing it for the bigger picture. We should not be crossing ethical lines when it is someone’s health , someone’s money and when it involves telling ‘white’ lies. We are muslims and we should know better. What is wrong is wrong and what is right is right. As mentioned in the article ‘Immediately’ was untrue. It was a lie, maybe a small white lie but a lie. We cant do a little wrong and justify it for the greater good. Same way we cant have a car boot fund-raiser selling haraam products and donate the proceeds to charity. Like I said , wrong is wrong and for me it is as black and white as that. Yes the public campaign is important , but we must conduct it in the correct way and Allah will put it in peoples hearts to donate. Ultimately Allah is in control of everything, we need to remember that and do what is right

  16. Understanding that photos had to be taken in order to get funds is one thing but to delay food for starving people or keep a dying child away from the hospital to get those shots is inhumane. Yes funds have to be raised but at what cost? It seems they were unorgnaized and the head wanted to make a bigger name for himself. A person does not take a position in a non profit organization for glorification but to try and offfer help to those who need it. In this situation people were dying and photos were more important. For those of you defending this action have you ever seen dying children? What if it was your family being exploited what would you want done?
    Assed didn’t write this with malice intent, he wrote the truth because that’s the person he is. Believe what you want but I know the truth has been spoken. Thanks again Assed.

  17. I can testify to the fact that I knew Assed had these concerns *while he was in Somalia* and that he is not simply raising them now because he is disgruntled. I think he’s been considering his response to this for a very long time.

  18. It just seems that you are bitter at IR having sacked you. If you really cared about the people in the field, you wouldn’t have released this. No good can come of this. All you are going to do is tarnish the name of a charity that does some amazing work. The irony of it – you are going to affect the charities donations and thus their ability to help others because of this. Absolute stupidity.

  19. I’d like to ask a question or two relating to this comment…

    “I don’t feel like doing a little wrong justifies doing it for the bigger picture”

    What if you had to kill 2 people to save millions? Would you do it?

    Would you sell haraam products for money if it was the only way to pay for your mother or your child to stay alive?

    I’ve always tried to understand the teachings of those before us or those of a spiritual existence, but sometimes it can be more of a hinderance than a help when it comes to tackling the plights of the here and now.

  20. Big respect for Mr Baig in exposing this.

    As a doctor I am disgusted and sickened to see that people were more concerned about getting photos then about a poor child dying..

    Imagine that was your own child…

    Even a few minutes in urgent medical care makes all the difference..

    We don’t know the fate of little Abdullahi but if it he died, his blood is definitely on IR’S hands.

    To think I was planning to give my Zakat to IR..

    Shame on you IR

  21. Actually, Mr Assed this is called cheap journalism- which you did unfortunately. I am sure you would have seen famous picture of dying child and a vulture awaiting this to happen…. What would you make of this story Mr Assed?? Better let charities like Islamic Relief to do their professional work. There are many issues in this world to look after and this will not bring you any fruit…..

  22. This blog brought the famous saying to my mind ‘money is the root to all evil’.

    Whats next for these prominent directors and trustees? The front cover of Times Magazine?

    I can only salute the courage and bravery of Mr Assed Baig for shedding light on the severely hidden incompetence and shameful intentions of those employees that both carried out these acts and those that stayed quiet and unresponsive in the face of it. How many more dishonoring acts will go unnoticed in this so called ‘Islamic’ organisation now that they can just get rid of anyone that speaks out?

    You are now the 4th former employee that has reported such unethical behavior of these individuals to whom aim for good statuses and publicity using manipulated emotional images, carefully selected video shoots, tweets and other forms of media as token gestures for their charities.

    Thank you very much Darrell and Assed for your honesty and efforts to eradicate such hypocrisy.

  23. Mixed reviews but I still think Assed was right to post this article, many people donate to IR n wonder if our money is being spent correctly, we need more transparency, we should know exactly how much of our money goes to the needy causes and how much goes to pay the big salaries for the top positions at IR. I have been hearing these sorts of stories for years. I’m glad Assed has actually told the truth so we can read it in black and white. Good job old boy!

  24. The problem is that J.M. will be shielded by the other guilty parties on the PR hungry circuit.

    Have seen lots of pictures in the last 12 months, of I.R. schmoozers taking tours to East Africa and facebooking their PR shots on their return. Snaps include talking to a poor widow, or holding a hand out to malnourished children. 10 minutes later they are ‘CEO’ or ‘trustee’ of a new muslim youth/arts/charity. Even though they have minimal skills and experience in social enterprise and charity work!

    It’s been going on for ages, the faltering plans exposed J.M. hopefully people will think twice before donating to someones all xpenses paid PR trip.

    Finally someone has called this unethical behaviour out! How dare people use the vulnerable in this way! Well done Assed.

  25. It’s important to know the truth. But let’s not punish an org for the actions of an individual. Iv never donated to IR but am aware of some of the great work they do. Actions of few cannot b reflected upon all.

    I can understand why u spoke out, I’m not sure if id recover from the scenes you had to witness. Only those who hve had to witness such horror, can truly empathise with you.

  26. Who are these sheep who keep posting the same crap about Assed being bitter because he was removed? I know for a fact that this is something he brought up whilst an employee and was sacked because of it.

    You can pretend to be high and mighty with your fake displays of religious righteousness but the fact is you’re nothing more than cowardly sheep parroting whatever line your moronic leaders are feeding you.

    It’s funny though that so many defending IR are volunteers and so many criticising it are current or former staff. I’m guessing the volunteers passionately posting here are looking to find work by sucking up to Jehangir?

  27. The scenes of Abdullahi (if I’m not mistaken) was the footage used by IR for last years appeals?… I clearly remember the images were APPALLING- it’s one thing showing the reality of a devastating situation but what they showed just didn’t look right- the images of JM being filmed with a child who looked overtly critical- was alarming!.. It was infuriating to watch-

    It reflected exactly what Assed has expressed in this blog!… I believe what you are saying…

  28. Knowing Mr Malik over a number of years, this account is in keeping with narcissistic and mischievous character. However, the real villain in this is the old boys network which runs IR and other charities. Once upon a time well meaning people, they now hang onto their positions, hopelessly out of their depth and presiding over waste, incompetence, injustice and even corruption.

  29. The salary of an IR director is 50k+. Jehangir lives in Birmingham. The donors pay for a house for him in London as well as huge travel expenses because of IR’s inability to recruit senior staff in London, one of the biggest and populous cities in the world. It’s all about keeping it in the IR family.

  30. Assed Baig, May Allah always give you the ability to stand up for the haq. As for the post, many are saying how it is wrong for assed to have posted this etc, i just want you all to ask yourselves this, I you had a 1 yr old child, who you hadnt been able to feed one decent meal or a glass of clean water since they were born, then all of a sudden someone arrives who could easily provide all this but instead they take a photo with your child like its some sort of zoo and then just left you there in the baking heat in the same situation, how would you feel………

  31. Continuing on… the child didn’t just look critical but he perhaps was also disabled ? Either way, complete exploitation of the poor & undermining the public/ donors intelligence.. it was disgusting!

    A year later someone has finally raised this, well done!

  32. Islamic Relief certainly need to perform an urgent review of their policies and practices.

    Other Muslim charities are available and we should look into those charities and support those who’s work we admire rather than just reverting to the default option. IR have lived off that default mentality too long and it keeps them from reviewing their practices.

  33. In response to previous comments:

    ‘What if you had to kill 2 people to save millions? Would you do it?’

    Killing two innocent people to save millions would be wrong, so I no I would not do it. Killing two people who are responsible for the suffering of millions is a different situation and in that case it would be justified to kill them.

    ‘Would you sell haraam products for money if it was the only way to pay for your mother or your child to stay alive?’

    This I cant answer as I have thankfully never been that desperate, Alhamdulliah. It is ultimately for Allah to judge those and show mercy, especially when someone acts out of desperation. I can not comment.
    However on the other hand, IR is a massive organisation whom you can not compare this desperate situation too. Yes people are in desperate need, but IR will have a PR campaign regardless, they spend thousands of pounds on it. Did their PR campaign hinge on making poor Abdullahi wait in the baking sun ? No!! They would have had hundreds of shots of people in desperation which they could have used. I’m sorry they crossed the line.

    I cant believe how people are trying to justify these actions when they know how easy it is to take a photo and make a video. People are in desperation all around, you don’t need to make someone in a dire situation, in need of URGENT help, pose for your otherwise useless PR campaign. We need to speak up so that incidents like this do not happen again. I haven’t even mentioned the suggestion of delaying a food hand out for two days so that you can get your footage. Have people gone mad trying to justify this.

    We’ve crossed the line so far that we cant even remember where it was.

    • I think you have framed the ethical dilemma incorrectly. The comparable situation is not one of ‘killing’ two people to save 10 others (lets not say millions). Rather it would be to allow two people to die as this would save 10 others. The harm is a result of an ommission rather than an act. The question is whether there is a moral difference between act ‘act’ and and ‘ommission’: between killing and letting die; or more accruately in this case, alieviating suffering or letting suffering continue. If ommissions are no different from acts, that then raises a moral dilemma for us all, as we carry on are comfortable lives here we are causing harm by ommission, we could each and everyone of us spend every moment each and every penny we have act to alieviate suffering. If we do not we are causing suffering by ommission.

  34. “Islamic Relief regrets that a disgruntled former employee has considered it appropriate to make what it considers to be unmeritorious negative imputations about its work and some of its staff. The former employee in question raised a formal grievance which was investigated and determined to be without merit. Subsequently he commenced an employment tribunal claim seeking a monetary payment, which he last week dropped unconditionally.

    Islamic Relief is, and will continue to be, utterly committed to alleviating suffering and raising funds to assist in this regard. Its work sometimes necessitates agonising decisions, as routinely faced by all other NGOs, but the overriding essence and goal of its activities is to provide optimum overall relief assistance to those in need.”

    So business as usual, Islamic Releif?
    Donors need to vote with their feet and their wallets.

  35. I understand where you’re coming from but what are you trying to achieve from this article?

    By doing this you might have caused harm to thousands as people would have lost faith in this charity as well as other possibly therefore are now less likely to donate.

    The idea to delay was definately wrong but it could have been a comment made without any thought of implications and as you are not sure whether the aid was actually delayed or not it is unfair to hold that against them as they may have well withdrawn the idea to delay after thinking it through.

    As for filming the woman in the heat…well again of course it was wrong but at the same time if it wasn’t for these charities then she would have been permanently in that situation in reality rather than temporary. Also a lot of people go through hard ship to get the aid to thousands suffering so if she suffered slightly in order to gain somuch more than i’m sure even she would be happy to do it again so that at the expense of her short term suffering thousands could benefit.

    It’s a shame that media coverage like this is needed to get people donating but if that’s what it takes then providing no one is harmed during these process (i.e. she didn’t lose her life sitting in the heat) then it’s a lesser of two evils…other being thousands dying.

  36. People keep asserting that Mr Malik wanted the photo for his own glory. Is it not possible that he believed that the pictures were needed in order to raise more money, that could then be used to save far more lives. This is a reality of modern media and donor fatigue. It does create genuine ethical dilemmas, this article would have been so much better if it had focused on the dilemmas this kind of situation creates and the various options that are availiable.

  37. ”People keep asserting that Mr Malik wanted the photo for his own glory. Is it not possible that he believed that the pictures were needed in order to raise more money”

    If that was the case then Malik would not have insisted upon delaying the distribution and would not have requested to take the only seat on the plane.

    By the way… there are plenty of pictures available from IR’s previous tours to East Africa, use them! You don’t need Malik’s mugshot in them. It was clearly a narcissistic PR stunt to get on mainstream TV and play some sort of hero. This is not Islamic behaviour!

  38. A case of the pot calling the kettle black. Wasn’t assed baig looking for self promotion when he introduced the sixty second news piece on islamic relief for YouTube to launch his career even those his sting brummie accent and incoherent speech did the organisation no justice?

    • Even if Assed was looking for self promotion via YouTube to which I’m sure he wasn’t. Atleast he wasn’t delaying food and putting malnourished kids in harm way for Islamic relief PR.

  39. I was also an employee of IR and I was with Assed in Somalia.

    Whilst I was in Kenya, I witnessed Jahangir Malik, the director of IR UK, ask Dr Ifikhar Ahmed, the head of IR’s aid response in Somalia, if a pre-planned distribution of emergency food aid in Somalia could be delayed until he arrived there a few days later.

    I also witnessed and filmed the ITN cameraman that Jahangir had brought with him to Somalia as he made a woman and her near death child sit down in the sun while he filmed them, even though we were attempting to take the child to the hospital. I also witnessed Jahangir lie to the media about “immediately” saving the child when we originally left the child to his fate.

    I was also in Libya when an IR fundraiser lied in his tweets about the aid that IR was distributing in Tripoli when he knew it wasn’t distributing any aid there.

    Assed raised these issues, along with myself, long before he was made unemployed after Jahangir failed to renew his contract. Assed later made a compliant that his employment was not renewed because of what he had said about Jahangir.

    During the subsequent investigation into this particular complaint I was called as a witness by IR, but my evidence of what I had seen in Somalia was deemed unreliable because I’m Assed’s friend.
    I am Assed’s friend, but I know what I saw, and I also obtained video evidence of one particular incident.

    By the way, Jahangir also decided not to renew my contract, despite the fact that my fellow colleagues, including my then manager, wanted my contract to be extended. I did not take them to a tribunal or ask for any money, before anyone tries to ruin this statement of mine by suggesting that I probably did.

    I find it shameful that IR’s recent statement on the matter has avoided answering what they dismissively call Assed’s “unmeritorious negative imputations”, and has ignored responding to the video evidence, which is very clear and freely available on YouTube. Instead, they have decided to essentially attack Assed’s character.

    Anyone with a clear mind can see that IR’s statement is designed to distract people from the real issue – all the claims Assed has made in his article. And what does this sentence mean in IR’s statement that it’s “ work sometimes necessitates agonising decisions”? Is this an admission that something did happen in Somalia? What “agonising decisions” does it refer to?

  40. I am frankly disgusted by the use of starving children and suffering people (in particular children) that Islamic Relief is using to raise money. They declare to be part of several networks for Child Protection but I would like to know if this kind of use of images are coherent with the Children Safe and Child Protection policies. And I would like to know why these networks they declare to be part of they don’t do or say about it. I refer to videos like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltgIOOWaupQ. This is abuse of suffering images of children, for fundraising purposes. Should be illegal.

  41. Isn’t there an charity commission or central independent body where unethical actions by a charity can be investigated?

  42. Every man for himself. We are all the same and serve only our own interests. Look at yourself before others.

  43. Just read this article and the various posts for and against Mr Assed. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is just one person’s version of what may or may not have happened in the airport and on the ground in Somalia. Has anyone actually bothered to ask Mr Malik?

    The video clip does not prove or disprove any of the allegations. The method of filming could be deemed to be unethical but how else do you think camera crews bring you close up shots of the starving individuals on the news? Believe it or nor but there is someone out there pointing a camera at them!

    Unlike Mr Assed and Mr Malik I was not there so cannot pass judgement on anyone. What I will say is that there is a God that is all knowing and all seeing. I will let God pass judgement.

  44. Yes, Allah swt will pass judgement on us all. People don’t make such assertions lightly. Maybe Jehangir’s reckoning is starting. It’s inevitable. What goes round comes round. He has harmed many people over the last 10 years and knows it. Allah swt knows the truth.

  45. Why is it taking janghir Malik so long to defend his acts.. If I was being accused of such in humane, disgraceful acts I would defend myself at the first opportunity…

  46. I remember seeing this film last year. I was horrified that this aid worker was giving a running commentary on the child’s deteriorating situation. He said something like ‘look at him, he’s just skin and bones’. Whilst agencies do have to use emotive images to stir the public conscience, this was undignified and shameless exploitation for marketing purposes. I wondered what bunch of amateurs was running their communications. I should have written to IR but didn’t. It would have been a waste of time amyway by the sound of it.

  47. Islamic Relief’s response to Assed Baig is typically arrogant and self deluding. They have a track record of terminating the contracts of ethically minded communications professionals. They recently fired their deputy director of communications, a woman. Their director of communications before Jehangir Malik OBE took over, another woman, left. In 2008, Shaista Aziz’s contract was not renewed after making IR the lead organisation in media terms for the Gaza crisis. Jehangir Malik OBE was her manager but he couldn’t handle her.

  48. Recording that conversation was unethical. But the lie detector software spiked when Jhanghir spoke. It should be game over for him. If the Islamic Relief have any brains, they’ll recognise he’s a liability and despatch him to their Pakistan office.

  49. Having worked for IR in the not so distant past, I am shocked but not entirely surprised by the actions of Jehangir and the fundraiser (- I can guess who, as I made a complaint of a similar nature that was ignored) that you mention. IR does (or certainly did) a lot of amazing work but serious failings amongst the leadership have weakened the organisation and have led to the dominance of inexperienced fundraisers from IR-UK who have little or no knowledge of development or humanitarian aid. I had hoped that things would improve as i have seen the good the organisation can do (often in areas away from the spotlight)when it is not focused on chasing media attention/donors’ money, and when it’s v capable project staff can carry out their work.

  50. Money and life. What is a childs life worth in donations? If you are prepared to watch a child die to raise funds, then there is certainly something wrong. As humans, we should have emotions. If we dont feel the pain of the mother holding the child, that merely makes us machines.

  51. As an ex employee of Islamic Relief, I wasn’t surprised to read this, and would not be surprised if it was true.

    I thought about writing something similar myself, but I’m quite sure they made me sign some contract or another preventing me from doing so, unless I want to be sued.

    Funnily enough, throughout my time with IR and after, I did not and will not donate to any of their campaigns, because I saw how they were using the money of donors and how their whole way of running the organisation was contrary to their apparent mission, and many Islamic values.

    I had many reasons to resign, and I would rather be unemployed than go back to that place.

    There are some sincere people within IR, but they are few.

  52. I fully agree with Mr. Assad in his statement. Islamic Relief is not that ideal as it seems for outsiders – esp. Muslims- in fact, its complicated place to describe in few words. It is a mix of corruption and hypocrisy for survival. Below is a real story from Islamic Relief Yemen.
    Last November 2012, number of national staff have been brutally fired from Islamic Relief Yemen, because they criticized the management in Yemen and UK as well, in presence of Dr Mohamed Ashmawey the CEO of IR in UK as well Dr Mohmaed Al Susi the Regional Director of MNEA, who both visited Yemen in November 2012.
    The staff have been fired, or as IRY stated in their notice letter (due fund constant), although Dr Ashmawey has announced that IR Yemen is expanding and doubling its operation in 2013!.
    In private discussion in Yemen, Dr Ashmawey mentioned, he never criticized the board of trustees, because they are IR image and we have to RESPECT them and their decision. It is a clear statement, that Islamic Relief is NOT a transparent environment, and there is no way to allow any staff to criticize the management, unless you want to lose, you job, as happened recently in Yemen.

    Mr. Atif Faroug the current Finance Admin Manager of IR Yemen, has came to Yemen to fight corruption made by former CD Mr. Khlaid Al Mulad and head of Program Mr. Abdulaziz Saeed, however, eventually, he followed the same direction, but with full support of IR UK, esp. from the finance dept who are pure Pakistani gang.
    Do you believe the former IRY CD Mr. Khlaid Al Mulad was a secretary for Dr Hani Al banna (Founder of IR in UK) before he PROMOTED in 2004 to be Country Director to IR Yemen? What a lucky man is!
    Islamic Relief Yemen since 2004 has an excellent history of corruption. The corruption includes, manage business and benefit from project resources, renting vehicles for IR Yemen, misuse of power and authority, recruiting the relatives and friends, even without interview, working with local partners that is classified as Islamist, and much more.
    Comprehensive details about corruption in Islamic Relief Yemen will go public very soon.

  53. Well done Assed. They will sack everyone and anyone who challanges the status quo or the many wrongs in this organization. it is perhaps the only organization in the world where the under performers are rewarded and professional, honest and over achievers are ignored. Sometimes I wonder if the management is really so nieve or feels threatened by highly skilled professionals. There just doesnt seem to be any interest in retaining quality staff. making things worse, the management advocates theory Y and practices theory X. they are a bunch of proud and arrogant arabs who consider themselves at the zenith of professionalism and perfection and consider their opinion as the rule, even when they know they are wrong.

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