UK stops £21m aid payment to Rwanda

 
M23 rebels withdraw from the town of Sake in eastern Congo Violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has drawn international condemnation

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The UK has suspended aid to Rwanda amid concerns about its role in the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The International Development Secretary Justine Greening said a payment worth £21m would not now be released.

An aid payment of £16m was paid to Rwanda in September despite questions over the country's alleged support for the M23 militia in DR Congo.

Her predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, controversially authorised the payment on his last day in the job.

Ms Greening said the money, which was due to be paid next month, would not be released because President Paul Kagame's government had breached agreements.

She pointed to fresh evidence presented by UN experts earlier this month about Rwanda's role in the conflict, describing it as "credible and compelling".

"We are committed to finding lasting solutions to the conflict in this region and will work with the governments of Rwanda and DRC to secure a peaceful resolution to the situation in eastern DRC," she said.

She said the government would give a further £18m for immediate humanitarian needs in the DR Congo.

Mr Mitchell, who had previously frozen aid to the country, had cited progress at international talks as the reason for reinstating the payment.

Half of the aid package was paid as "general budget support" and half directly to the education and agriculture sectors.

Analysis

The rebel advance in recent weeks has made tens of thousands of Congolese homeless.

Britain is increasing its aid to Congo by £18m to help them.

Although these moves will annoy the Rwandan government and please the authorities in Congo, they are unlikely to change the fundamentals of the war.

Rwanda backs one set of rebels because the weak Congolese government allows another armed group, which is opposed to the government in Rwanda, to operate from Congolese soil.

Adjusting British aid flows is unlikely to change that situation anytime soon.

In a report, the international development select committee said it "did not understand" how he had concluded the state was no longer backing the M23.

"Mr Mitchell has assured us that he carried out extensive consultations within the UK government and with the government of Rwanda before making his decision. The new secretary of state agreed that the decision-making process had been robust," the report said.

Downing Street denied this had been a mistake, saying the government "stands by the decision".

Mr Mitchell said it was made by the government, not just his department.

"It was the right decision when we made it in September just as today the Secretary of State has made the right decision because of the change in the DRC," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

President Kagame has been praised for improving the economic and social conditions in the east African country since he came to power at the end of the 1994 genocide, in which some 800,000 people died.

But a UN report claims Rwanda's defence minister is effectively commanding the rebellion group in the east of the DR Congo (DRC). The BBC has uncovered evidence that Rwandan support for the rebels may be more widespread than previously believed.

'Harm Rwanda'

Rwanda's Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, claimed the decision had been made on the basis of "false, politically-motivated allegations" in the UN report.

Shadow international development secretary Ivan Lewis welcomed the "belated" decision to suspend aid, and accused Mr Mitchell of a "serious misjudgement".

He said: "It is now important that aid continues to reach the poorest and most vulnerable in Rwanda and the DRC.

"We never accused Andrew Mitchell of being a rogue minister. However, recent developments have demonstrated his decision to unilaterally reinstate budget support to the government of Rwanda was a serious misjudgement."

Pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance said it was "appalling" that any taxpayers' money had gone "directly to a government involved in a proxy war".

Campaign manager Robert Oxley added: "This announcement leaves a huge question mark over why Dfid, and specifically Andrew Mitchell, reinstated the aid programme to the Rwandan government which was fanning the flames of conflict in DRC."

 

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  • rate this
    +67

    Comment number 362.

    Charity begins at home is an old adage. In other words, get your own house in order before sorting others. Harsh as it may sound, I for one, can't even begin to comprehend how many billions of money over the years in aid has been poured into Africa and other countries yet still see a begging bowl. Add in monetary aid from other nations and you have to ask what has it all achieved?

  • rate this
    +93

    Comment number 112.

    I feel sad for poorer countries, but it's down to their own governents to make sure they are provided for. You don't see their leaders poor do you?
    Our money should be spent on the good of our own country and our own people, because it's US that has paid into the future of our country. We should reap any benefits

  • rate this
    +135

    Comment number 105.

    If I thought that those in need ever benefited from monetary aid, perhaps I would consider this differently. However, as money is often squandered by corrupt politicians and military leaders, I don't think we should ever give monetary aid to any country. Send people with medical help, food supplies, childhood vaccinations etc.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 101.

    These comments saying we shouldn't give money to other countries make me sad. We are struggling in the UK at the moment, but relatively speaking on a global scale, even the poorest are well off. I know there is a standard of living expectation too and there is poverty here, but we should not neglect the very poorest in this world. We just need to make sure it goes to people who use it wisely...

  • rate this
    -82

    Comment number 97.

    Again a sad day with such self centered comments coming through one here - what makes us a civilised country are things like overseas aid. It wouldn't take much for all of the supporters of such cuts to change their mind. An Image of a baby with rib cage sticking through skin would have you all waving cheques.

 

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