Wednesday, February 09, 2011

International aid or is it military funding?

International aid budgets are often used for military operations or diplomacy goals, instead of going to help provide needs to the poor. A new report from OXFAM analyzes how much international aid actually goes to a military instead of humanitarians. The study says that this practice actually puts the humanitarians in danger.

From the Guardian, writer Richard Norton-Taylor unpacks the report for us.

The association of civil "quick impact" projects with foreign military forces have made aid workers in Afghanistan more vulnerable to attacks from Taliban-led insurgents, human rights and development agencies say.

Aid workers' neutrality is compromised if local people see aid as a tool of the military, Oxfam warns. It says 225 aid workers were killed, kidnapped or injured in attacks worldwide during 2010, compared with 85 in 2002.

More than 40% of the total $17.8bn (£11bn) increase in development aid from major industrialised countries since 2001 has gone to two countries – Afghanistan and Iraq – with the rest shared between about 150 others, says the report, titled Whose Aid is it Anyway?

Billions of pounds of international aid that could have transformed the lives of people in the poorest countries in the world has been spent on unsustainable, expensive and sometimes dangerous aid projects, as donor governments including the US, Canada, and France have used aid to support short-term foreign policy and security objectives, it says.

Humanitarian aid per head given annually to the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a 12th of that spent in Iraq, though per capita income in the DRC is more than 10 times lower than in Iraq.

Aid money used for short-term projects by US military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan – amounting to more than $1.5bn in 2010 – is now almost equivalent to America's worldwide poverty-focused development assistance budget, Oxfam says.

In Yemen, it notes, US attempts to combat al-Qaida's influence has resulted in its $121m aid package ignoring the country's poorest districts in favour of sparsely populated and less poor areas associated with Islamist groups.

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