MAD 14 million to improve living conditions in charitable institutions
By Karima Rhanem 4/15/2005 | 1:50 pm GMT
Abderahim Harouchi, Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity, announced on Wednesday that a ministerial committee has been created, following the King's instructions, to audit the country's charities and to work on a bill that would restructure the work of social institutions in Morocco.
Harouchi told reporters that the previous law of social institutions was too general and did not cover the special situation of Charity Houses.
“This led to the tragedy that Moroccans have seen on TV screens, during King Mohammed VI's surprising visit to the Ain Chock Charity House a fortnight ago,” said the Minister.
He stressed that the causes of this tragedy were mainly related to the bad management and the laissez-faire policy, which characterized the work of the Ain Chock Charity House – said to be the largest orphanage in the Arab world and Africa.
Harouchi said that the Accountably Office will audit 250 charities to end the mismanagement of funds, stating that the government has allocated MAD 14 million to improve living conditions in charitable institutions.
The minister pointed out that a new interim committee is currently leading the Ain Chock Charity House, after its former members had been accused of corruption, embezzlement and forgery.
The Casablanca judicial police said earlier last week that Mohammed El Kassi, the Ain Chock House's director, his assistant, the treasurer and seven others were being held in custody and would appear soon before the judge.
Their properties, including that of their families (wives and children), and their bank accounts have been seized.
The 700 residents of the Ain Chock Islamic Charity House in Casablanca have endured harsh living conditions for years, until the visit of HM King Mohammed VI who rescued them from the piggy life they were living.
The Charity House lacks sanitary facilities, health services and drinking water. The bathrooms, showers, kitchen and dormitories became home for cockroaches, mice and several insects.
The House residents were starving. Some of them were forced to go out to sell vegetables and cigarettes in local “souks” to earn a living to survive.
Shattered dreams, lack of hope, and desperation. These are the characteristics of their daily lives.
Many of the residents, most of whom are students decided to flee hell and got on deadly pateras to cross the other side of the Atlantic – mainly to Spain – seeking a “heavenly life”. One of the House's rooms has pictures on the wall of those who managed to immigrate clandestinely to Europe.
The probe is reviewing the House's annual government aid and its expenses. Morocco Times got a copy of an official document of the Charity House, which reveals its 2002 revenues. The association received a total of MAD 8.2 million in 2002. The document also shows the House's name as a corporation instead of an association.
Last year, the association received MAD 10 million. The Ministry of Justice had also granted the institution MAD 800,000.
The scandal has sparked outrage among Moroccans, many of whom demanded a severe trial for all those implicated in this scandal.
Another charity house director was dismissed from his job, but was not legally sued for any embezzlement. A new interim director, Abdeladim Horaira, was appointed at the Tit Mellil Charity House. Assabah, a Moroccan Arabic daily, called the association “a rubbish can for humans” in its one full- page report, which explained the inhuman conditions and the hardship endured by its residents.
Assabah also reported on Friday on the case of another Charity House in the city of Mohammedia, where its residents were forced to beg in the streets to ensure their daily meals. The Charity House's kitchen was closed, but its director claimed that the kitchen was being repaired. A human right official who visited the Charity House reported the inhuman conditions of its 70 residents.
“It is high time that the Moroccan government puts fighting corruption and embezzlement high on its agenda. Without transparency, Morocco cannot progress,” claimed a Moroccan civil rights activist.