Invade, beg, pay

Is the British rule that massive aid to poor countries can mostly come after a disastrous Western invasion and occupation?

Britain is to double to …£3.8bn the amount of aid money spent on war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, raising fears among charities that national security priorities will determine development spending.

As David Cameron warned that Britain would be “mad” not to direct money to broken states, Save the Children warned that poor, but stable, countries in Africa might lose vital funds as the new National Security Council prioritises aid spending.

Patrick Watt, Save the Children’s director of development, said last night: “What is the real driver of aid allocation? Is it poverty, is it need and the ability to use money effectively or is it the agenda of the National Security Council? We do need to have a balanced approach to aid allocation that reflects the principles of the 2002 International Development Act which stipulates that all aid should be for poverty reduction.”

An Oxfam policy adviser also expressed concerns about aid being delivered through “military structures” that could risk civilian aid workers.

The row broke out after the government decided, in the strategic defence and security review, to double by 2014 the …£1.9bn that is spent on what are known as “fragile and conflicted states”. This echoes the thinking of Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, who told the Guardian in January: “We would build on what [the Department for International Development] is today and make it even more successful and perhaps wire it in a little bit better into the Whitehall constellation.”

It is understood that the government is planning to narrow the list of priority fragile countries, which currently includes Nigeria and Kenya, to just five. They are expected to be Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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