THE Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME), the charity founded by the former Chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, after allegations that ransoms were paid to secure the release of young girls held as sex slaves by so-called Islamic State.
The charity has suspended Canon White from his position as President. He is continuing in his work with Iraqi refugees in Jordan and in reconciliation efforts in Jerusalem.
Canon White declined to comment when approached by the Church Times this week, saying that he was currently unable to anything about the issue. Earlier, in a Facebook message to his supporters, which has since been deleted, he said that the inquiry had been launched “in response to some inaccurate statements I made about our work with and funding for the former slave girls taken by Islamic State. What is clear is that at no time did we pay money to any terrorists.”
In a statement, the trustees of FRRME said that they were “co-operating fully with the appropriate authorities” and that “it would be inappropriate to comment further on an active investigation other than to say that the Foundation believe at this stage that the alleged incident stemmed from a genuine desire by Canon White to help others.”
The Charity Commission also declined to comment on “a live investigation” other than to confirm that a statutory inquiry had been launched and promising that they would publish a detailed report once their inquiry was complete.
Separately, the charity has warned of a worsening security situation in Jordan, after two attacks this month in which 11 people were killed.
“This will not affect our aid operation in Jordan,” the FRRME said in a statement. “However, we are mindful of the worsening security situation. The 500 families we are caring for in the country are Christian. Many of them fled Northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. . . These recent attacks show how far the sectarian conflict in the Middle East has spread. The violence is once again at their door.”