WikiLeaks: UK Initially Opposed Increased Aid to Afghanistan

The British government’s announcement in July 2010 that it will scale up its aid to Afghanistan to approximately 700 million pounds (USD1 billion) from more than 500 million pounds through 2013 was its original intention as stated in a leaked cable. The memo said the U.K. did not intend to increase its funding for the Islamic country from the original allocation of 510 million pounds for the same period.

The leaked cable, classified as secret and dated Aug. 5, 2009, states that the U.K. was not planning on increasing aid to Afghanistan through 2013, but noted British authorities’ speculation that a Conservative government would likely push for more resources to Afghanistan.

“Tim Foy, Deputy Head of the Afghanistan office for the Department for International Development’s (DfID) told EMIN and Econoff on 27 July that Britain is pursuing a new aid strategy for Afghanistan, reflecting a change in priorities and new level of ambition,” the leaked cable published by The Telegraph said. “Foy told Econoffs that he believed a Conservative win in the next election would probably result in increased aid spending in Helmand, but no large shift in development strategy.

The Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats following an inconclusive election in May, 2010.

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell announced in July, 2010 that British resources for Afghanistan will reach 700 million pounds through 2013. The funding will target institutional capacity building, revenue generation and infrastructure development in Helmand province, among others.

>> UK Increases Aid to Afghanistan

The cable also says that the British government will scale up the portion of its aid directed through the Afghan government. Foy, the cable adds, had said the outcome of this approach is “worth the gamble” to help boost the Afghan government’s capacity and credibility, the cable notes.

“London wants allies to direct more funding through the Afghan Government, reevaluate the role of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), increase efforts on security and justice, and focus greater attention on the areas of job creation and reconciliation and reintegration of displaced people,” according to the cable.

In another leaked cable, dated Nov. 3, 2008 and marked unclassified, the British government remains committed to reaching the international target of allocating 0.7 percent of gross domestic product to aid spending despite the global financial woes.

The U.K. has also urged European Union member states to use “specific, measurable country allocations” to meet the target of allocating 0.56 percent of GDP to development spending by 2010.

“To avoid [Her Majesty’s Government] becoming the ‘financier of last resort,’ DfID is stressing the themes of ‘shared interest’ and the ‘benign influence’ of development as arguments for other donors to provide assistance,” according to the cable.

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About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.