Crossbench Peer Warns of ‘Militarization’ of UK Afghan Aid

Royal Engineers, shown above shaking hands with a local, continue to provide improvements to infrastructure in Afghanistan. A crossbench peer has raised concerns about U.K. aid to the country being used for military purposes. Photo by: UK / MOD Crown

At a July 28 meeting of the U.K. House of Lords, a crossbench peer has raised concerns that the country’s foreign aid for Afghanistan is being “militarized.”

John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, said U.K. aid to the conflict-torn Asian country is being used for military purposes, particularly for providing security in provinces such as Kandahar and Helmand.

“In a country with such high infant mortality and maternal mortality, surely its priorities must be poverty reduction and the millennium development goals. That is why the aid budget was ring-fenced by all political parties so how is it now being militarized?” Montagu argued according to BBC.

The Baroness Sandip Verma, the international development minister’s spokesperson, rejected Montagu’s claim. She explained that while the U.K. Department for International Development and the Minister of Defense are working closely together, DfID’s work focuses on poverty elimination.

Montagu’s remark comes on the heels of U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell announcement that the U.K. is increasing its aid to Afghanistan by 40 percent over five years, as reported by Devex.

In the U.K., crossbench peers are members of the House of Lords who are not affiliated with any political parties.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.