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Spend aid money on poverty, not peacekeeping, charities tell PM

22 February 2013


Holy site: David Cameron is shown around the Golden Temple at Amritsar, on Wednesday

Holy site: David Cameron is shown around the Golden Temple at Amritsar, on Wednesday

AID agencies have criticised the Prime Minister for suggesting that more of the Government's aid budget should be used to fund peacekeeping defence operations.

Mr Cameron said during a visit to Amritsar, in northern India, on Wednesday: "Can we do more? Can we build on this approach? I am very open to ideas like that. We have our moral responsibilities for tackling poverty around the world. We also have our national security responsibilities for mending conflict states and helping with development around the world."

Christian Aid said in a statement on Thursday that it 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. . .

"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 "peace and stability" would best be brought about "through poverty reduction. . . life-saving development money should be spent on . . . helping poor communities to build better futures, not on any kind of military intervention."

The chief executive of World Vision, Justin Byworth, said: "The Prime Minister is 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."

A spokesperson for the Department for International Development (DFID) said: "All DFID's aid spend is in line with internationally agreed guidelines. As part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, we pledged to invest 30 per cent of our bilateral aid in fragile and conflict-affected countries by 2014/15, and we work closely with the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence to make sure our approach is joined up, including through the Conflict Pool, which provides funding for conflict prevention."

The Government's commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas aid is supported by aid agencies, but has been questioned by some Conservative MPs. The International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, announced in November that aid would be cut to India ( News, 16 November). The decision was criticised by charities, including Save the Children and Oxfam.

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