Who are we funding? The darker side of British foreign aid

The British government must do more to ensure that the foreign aid it donates is not misspent for sinister purposes. The actions of the Palestinain Authority are a case in point.

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Foreign aid: contributing to peace or prolonged conflict?
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Matthew Sinclair
On 2 August 2011 09:13

Just a few weeks ago the Government cut off budget support to Malawi. That doesn't mean we won't be sending any aid to that poverty stricken country, it just means that DfID will stop writing cheques on our behalf to their government. 

The idea with budget support is that it can be more efficient to fund a developing country's government directly and help build up their institutions, but it was suspended due to concerns about "economic management and governance" in the country. But Malawi isn't the only country where we should be concerned about how a government receiving budget support uses our money. We need to look again at some of the other recipients.

The Palestinian Authority is a particularly important and worrying case. Huge amounts are donated to the Palestinian Territories in the hope of lessening the humanitarian problems there, and improving the chances of peace in the region. But there are a few things that they do with our money that should cause us great concern.

As I wrote in an article with Commentator Executive Editor, Raheem Kassam, for the Wall Street Journal Europe, they produce official television, radio, newspapers and even school textbooks that radicalise the Palestinian people. Bringing up the next generation to regard Israel as transient and unwelcome and encouraging them to prefer violent confrontation to peaceful compromise will make it much harder to secure a long term peace. 

With 42 per cent of their population under the age of 15, those being brought up now will be critical to whether any deal struck at the negotiating table will stick. Organisations like Palestinian Media Watch and IMPACT-SE keep a careful eye on what is going on and find everything from calling the murderous Iraqi insurgency a "brave resistance", to celebrating brutal murderers like Samir Kuntar and endless maps in schoolbooks where Israel doesn't even exist.

Jonathan S. Tobin has reported in Commentary Magazine that the authority is paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists. It goes without saying that such rewards for often sickening violence are an awful thing for British taxpayers to be indirectly financing. We need to look again, as the Canadian Government has, at the kind of programmes we fund in the Palestinian Territories and ensure our money is better controlled and better directed at achieving our aims.

There are other examples. The Metropolitan Police recently had to warn Rwandan dissidents living in London in exile that their Government might try to kill them. But we are giving that same Government taxpayers' cash in budget support.

Taxpayers don't support the current sharp rises in the international development spending. Our YouGov poll found a massive 69 per cent would support freezing the budget at its current level, which would save £3.7 billion a year. If the government wants to keep up their plans for major increases in spending then the least they should do is ensure the money isn't being misspent, and that has to start by looking again at some of the governments we provide budget support to.

Matthew Sinclair is the Director of the Tax Payers' Alliance and author of Let Them Eat Carbon. He tweets at @mjhsinclair.

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