BERLIN — Afghanistan has slipped three places to become the world's second-most-corrupt country despite billions in aid meant to bolster the government against a rising insurgency, according to an annual survey of perceived levels of corruption.
Only lawless Somalia, whose weak U.N.-backed government controls just a few blocks of the capital, was perceived as more corrupt than Afghanistan in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.
Iraq saw some improvement, rising to 176 of 180 countries, up two places up from last year. Singapore, Denmark and New Zealand were seen as the least corrupt countries in the list based on surveys of businesses and experts.
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai's inability or unwillingness to tackle cronyism and bribery the past five years have resulted in an increase of support for the Taliban insurgents.
That has prompted calls by the Obama administration for Karzai to tackle the practice or risk forfeiting U.S. aid.
Since 2001, the U.S. Congress has appropriated more than $39 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan, according to a report by the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. European nations send about $1.5 billion a year.
International donors are increasingly questioning how much of the billions of dollars in aid might have been misappropriated.
The report said examples of Afghan corruption ranged from the sale of government positions to daily bribes for basic services.
Karzai unveiled an anticorruption unit and major crime fighting force on Monday after heavy pressure from Washington.