U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell has rejected claims that the U.K. government is putting the country’s security agenda ahead of aid priorities as it unveils plans to reduce the number of aid recipients.
“In terms of the suggestion that we are securitizing aid, we are dealing with parts of the world where people are doubly cursed — not only because they live in extreme poverty but also because they live in very conflicted societies,” the Guardian quotes Mitchell.
The secretary was responding to concerns by some aid organization officials that the U.K.’s plans to focus its assistance on fewer countries take away money intended for poor nations and channel it to those that are considered high security risks to the U.K.
“The securitization of aid is a real concern under the outcomes of this review,” Julian Oram, World Development Movement’s head of policy, said, according to the Guardian.
Mitchell explained that the the areas where the U.K. will spend a third of its foreign aid budget includes countries where 75 percent of child deaths from malaria and 75 percent of maternal deaths in childbirth occurred.
The secretary also denied claims that some of the planned increase of the U.K.’s overall aid spending to 11 billion pounds ($18 billion) by 2015 will be achieved by redefining the protection of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and similar initiatives as aid projects.
“Our commitment is not just to the 0.7%; it is also to the rules which govern the definitions of international aid,” Mitchell said. “We have made it absolutely clear that these are the rules which will govern British aid spending, so there is no danger of money migrating into causes which are not covered.”
Meantime, Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour party and shadow international development secretary, is pressing Mitchell to “confirm that the 0.7%/2013 commitment will not be the government’s next broken promise.”
“He must resist those who urge the government to abandon this pledge and must campaign vigorously to show that aid matters, it saves lives and it works,” Harman writes in an op-ed piece for the Guardian.
Read more about the U.K. bilateral and multilateral aid review.