Cameron suggests UK aid could be spent assisting military operations

David Cameron: Said aid budget could be used to provide 'stability and security'

David Cameron: Said aid budget could be used to provide 'stability and security'

Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 00:00

UK overseas aid:International aid agencies, including Concern, have expressed their unease at suggestions by British prime minister David Cameron that some of the UK’s aid budget could be spent on military operations in fragile states such as Mali.

Mr Cameron said the British government had to show that the UK’s £12 billion aid budget was spent wisely, saying that some of the money could be used to provide “basic levels of stability and security”.

Concern’s executive director Rose Caldwell said: “If the UK becomes the first G8 country to spend 0.7 per cent of [gross national income] on overseas aid it would be shameful that part of this money is then spent on military budgets.”

A third of the money given by the UK in bilateral aid is spent training police in fragile states, though Mr Cameron’s remarks were interpreted as meaning that money could be spent on military actions.

Seeming to give Mr Cameron room to manoeuvre, Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth noted that international aid has to be spent in line with rules set down by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

“This is wholly different from diverting UK aid for UK arms or UK military operations. Any move towards this would be a misuse of aid money and a major cause for concern. The prime minister’s words yesterday do not suggest he intends to do this,” he said.

Mr Cameron is under pressure to make cuts in the UK’s ODA budget.