The EU remains the world’s largest provider of development assistance. However, in 2015 a large portion of it focused on addressing the refugee crisis within European borders, while the share of aid going to the world’s poorest countries has declined to only a quarter.
The data on recent trends in development assistance appear in a report by ONE, a campaigning and advocacy organisation that takes action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. The report was published today (19 September) on the eve of the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, taking place in New York on 20 September.
The report highlights how some European governments have been responding to the domestic impact of the refugee crisis by using investments intended for overseas to cover ‘in-donor costs’ at home.
For instance, last year the Netherlands spent more aid within its own borders than in the entire African continent. In-donor refugee costs accounted for 50% or more of bilateral assistance in Italy, Greece and Sweden, and more than 20% of total assistance in Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Czech Republic
International agreements allow the use of development aid to meet in-donor costs for asylum seekers. However, according to ONE, this trend is eroding much needed resources for developing countries which host 86% of the world’s refugees and are struggling to provide basic services like quality education.
The Leaders’ Summit on Refugees could be an opportunity to reverse this negative trend, explains ONE.
“The European Commission should step up its support to refugee education in the poorest countries and help ensure that the 3.57 million out-of-school refugee children worldwide are guaranteed access to education,“ said Tamira Gunzburg, Brussels Director at the ONE Campaign.
“With a €260 million pledge, the Commission could play a major role in satisfying the Summit’s objectives of increasing funding to humanitarian appeals by 30%, and of getting 1 million more refugee children in quality education this year.”
ONE states that that there is a real risk that European countries continue to use money originally set aside for overseas development programmes to deal with the domestic impact of the refugee crisis.
“Forcing a deadly trade-off between refugees and people living in extreme poverty is not a just or long-term solution. In today’s changed world, the EU can and must step up funding for both important issues.”
The Brussels Times