Aid agencies 'deeply concerned' about linking of aid to military spending

By staff writers
February 21, 2013

Aid agencies have expressed 'deep concern' about moves to link the UK's overseas aid with military spending in fragile states.

It comes after the Prime Minister said that the government is to consider spending money from the UK's £10 billion aid budget on defence-related projects.

In a statement today, Christian Aid said that Britain should be "proud of the quality of its overseas development work" and that it fully supported the Government’s move towards the UN target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas aid by the end of this year.

However, it continued "we would be deeply concerned about any moves to link aid with military spending in fragile states, not least because of the risk it can pose to aid workers on the ground.

"Aid diverted to ‘security, peacekeeping and demobilisation’ could have long term implications. The blurring of the lines between military action and aid delivery could mean that aid workers become associated with those forces, meaning they are not only put at risk, but find it hard to gain the trust of the people they are trying to help."

Christian Aid said that any link between aid delivery and military intervention would make this relationship very difficult.

The best way to bring about peace and stability is through poverty reduction, it said.

Justin Byworth, Chief Executive of World Vision UK, said: “The British government leads the way on good aid spending – and diverting more money to peacekeeping operations could put that in jeopardy.

“The Prime Minister's correct that security and peace are essential, but long-term stability is about far more than peacekeeping. In reality, it’s a complex mix which includes nutrition, health, education, and protecting vulnerable children, which all help to prevent conflict and empower people to cope with challenging circumstances.

“Spending on peacekeeping from the aid pot is already limited by international standards. We’d be concerned if this statement means these standards are being challenged.”

[Ekk/2]

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