Wealthy coun­tries fur­ther can­ni­balise de­vel­op­ment bud­gets to host refugees

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Faced with what prom­ises to be a long-term mi­gra­tion cri­sis, more and more donor coun­tries are us­ing their de­vel­op­ment bud­gets to fund their do­mes­tic asy­lum poli­cies, a trend that is set to be­come in­creas­ingly the norm. EurAc­tiv France re­ports.

A grow­ing share of aid bud­gets are be­ing al­lo­cated to the host­ing of refugees as Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis shows no sign of slow­ing down, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 Data Re­port by ONE, a de­vel­op­ment aid NGO, pub­lished on Monday.

In 2015, the world’s main donor coun­tries pro­vided $131 bil­lion of of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA), a 7% in­crease on 2014. But after de­duct­ing the $12bn these coun­tries spent host­ing refugees, the in­crease comes to a less im­pres­sive 1.8%.

The refugee cri­sis has caused the de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance bud­gets of seven Euro­pean coun­tries (Greece, Swe­den, Ger­many, Aus­tria, the Nether­lands, Slo­vakia and Slove­nia) to in­crease by more than 20%.

In Italy, Greece and Swe­den, the coun­tries most af­fected by the refugee cri­sis, the cost of host­ing refugees rep­re­sents up to half of all bi­lat­eral aid.

In its re­port, the NGO crit­i­cised the im­bal­ances caused by this de­ploy­ment of funds, which of­ten oc­curs at the ex­pense of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. For ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “The Nether­lands gave more aid to it­self ($1.58bn) for in-donor refugee costs in 2015 than it gave to the whole of Africa ($1.48bn) in 2014.”

“As the refugee cri­sis con­tin­ues in 2016, the amount of aid spent on refugees in aid-giv­ing coun­tries is likely to rise,” the re­port added.

France has ring-fenced ODA in its lat­est bud­get. In 2016, the French govern­ment also promised a 23% in­crease to its ODA bud­get, in or­der to cover the cost of host­ing refugees with­out cut­ting aid else­where. The over­all bud­get will also see a slight in­crease, thanks to the Fi­nan­cial Trans­ac­tion Tax (FTT).

France is due to present the broad lines of its 2016 bud­get soon, but ONE fears that Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande’s promised in­crease of $4bn by 2020 will be im­pos­si­ble to ful­fill.

“We are within our rights to ques­tion how the pres­i­dent will keep his prom­ise of in­creas­ing the bud­get […] at that speed,” said Friederike Röder, the di­rec­tor of ONE France.

In 2015, after four con­sec­u­tive years of cuts, France in­creased its of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance by 1.5% to EUR 8.19bn.

The NGO also ex­am­ined the dis­tri­bu­tion of French aid. While the re­port high­lights some good news, like the re­align­ment of a cer­tain amount of aid for the least ad­vanced coun­tries (up by 11.6% in 2015), it crit­i­cised the al­lo­ca­tion of a por­tion of French ODA to the host­ing of refugees.

In 2014, France spent more of its ODA on host­ing refugees than on hu­man­i­tar­ian op­er­a­tions in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

“France’s pri­or­i­ties are co­her­ent on pa­per: the pri­or­ity coun­tries for French ODA are among the poor­est and most frag­ile in the world. But this de­vel­op­ment aid pol­icy will al­ways be in­ef­fi­cient if it is not ac­com­pa­nied by ad­e­quate fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments,” said Roder.

The rules con­cern­ing the record­ing of Pub­lic De­vel­op­ment Aid are set by the De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance Com­mit­tee (DAC) of the OECD. This in­ter­na­tional fo­rum of the 29 largest providers of aid de­cides which coun­tries are el­i­gi­ble for de­vel­op­ment aid and what kind of spend­ing con­sti­tutes in­ter­na­tional aid.

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