EU wants to use relief fund to boost security in Africa

World Today

EU wants to use relief fund to boost security in Africa

Aid charities have condemned a draft proposal from the European Union to redirect development funding to bolster armed forces in Africa and the Middle East. The EU wants to improve the security situation in countries where thousands of people are fleeing to Europe as part of the refugee crisis.

CCTV’s Jack Parrock reports. Follow Jack Parrock on Twitter @jackeparrock

For many countries across sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, development funding has been crucial in building communities and decreasing poverty levels.

But now the EU is proposing to adapt one of its funds so the money can be used for military operations.

Aid organisations have been outspoken in their opposition to the plan.

“Countries can and do cooperate on military issues, the issue is where that money comes from,” Sara Tesorieri, Oxfam International said. “The EU budget is fixed, if they’re moving money into this fund in order to cover this new role that this fund will take on, and that’s what they’re doing, how much money is left for everything else? Including actual development assistance.”

The draft proposal states that the money, normally allocated for maternity programs or schools, would be used for security operations like landmine clearing and border control.

It’s about $110 million from a fund worth $2.7 billion.

“Last year, world leaders approved the new sustainable development goals, and one of these goals, pushed by NGOs, African partners, is saying you have to help us to protect the security of communities and for that, in some exceptional circumstances, the army, when they are doing civilian activities, are the only ones that needs to be able to rebuild a school, or to de-mine a place,” Alexandre Polack, EU commission spokesperson said.

The EU has come under fire for a similar move in Sudan. European funds are to be used to support the Sudanese government militia to try to bring the refugee crisis under control.

The EU insists no EU development money will be used for weapons and ammunition procurement or for training soldiers for war.

At the moment it’s just a draft proposal and far from getting signed off, but aid charities are warning it’s part of a broader trend in the EU of redistributing aid money into other sectors of cooperation.