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End this foreign aid farce now


I HAD hoped the rumours of Boris Johnson cutting the foreign aid budget were true. But the Prime Minister is not planning to axe the Department for International Aid and Development (Dfid) nor is he going to remove its 0.7 per cent ring-fenced budget. 

Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for International Development, put those rumours to bed during his robotic appearance on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. The deeply unimpressive Sharma came across as yet another government cipher reading from a well-worn script, especially with his claim to be scrutinising DfID’s expenditure of its £14billion aid budget. His delusion about the popularity of DfID does not bode well for its future spending initiatives.

Britain spends more on foreign aid than any other country other than the US. Since 2010 DfID has spent £100billion overseas including in India, which has its own space programme, and wealthy China which persecutes Christians and Muslims. 

Yet in a show of his woke credentials, Sharma insisted that India and China still need DfID to pay for ‘climate change expertise’. Most of the climate change propaganda is spearheaded by the Islamist-dominated United Nations and is of highly dubious value. So why is DfID spending billions to enrich foreign despots in the name of climate change while pensioners at home have to pay massive green taxes and so choose between heating and eating? 

DfID also fails British taxpayers when it comes to its involvement with anti-Semitic terrorist regimes. Sharma has been in his role since July last year, giving him more than adequate time to curtail DfID’s contribution to ‘pay for slay’ in Israel, a practice recently condemned by Lord Polak. Constraining DfID’s contribution to ‘pay for slay’ is something I have been advocating for the past three years. But the Government should go one step further and cease its funding of not only the corrupt Palestinian Authority but the fraudulent United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Its staff have a history of spreading blood libels both on social media and in its schools. 

Yet the mandarins who run DfID seem proud of propping up this anti-Semitic organisation. Despite evidence that British taxpayers’ money is being used for nefarious purposes, they still insist on funding this UN subsidiary. 

Their protestations that Gaza needs DfID’s help are also outrageous. Sharma should be asking why the people of Gaza live in such poverty while the billionaire leaders of Hamas have lives of luxury? It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots. 

The answer is indicative of the moral issues surrounding DfID.

Millions in aid money is siphoned off by despots and gangsters. Foreign government recipients of DfID’s aid are free to relinquish their financial responsibility for their own people because the hard-pressed British taxpayer will pay for them instead.

Sharma naively wants to ‘help people in the developing world alleviate poverty’. Charity certainly isn’t found in financing suspect dictators and organisations, wealthy NGOs and elitist government mandarins going on jollies to exotic places in the name of foreign aid. It would be better to begin at home.

How does DfID justify its multi-billion-pound expenditure when only £2billion is given to councils to help alleviate the escalating problem of rough sleeping? Why did the charity Veterans Aid, which helps vulnerable ex-soldiers, have to make do with only £500,000 in government grants, a fraction of what DfID gives to UNRWA? 

Thousands of veterans are homeless but Veterans Aid was able to house only 177 of them last year owing to financial restrictions. Smarmy platitudes about climate change will not help an ex-serviceman starving on our streets. Surely our homeless veterans who have served this country are more deserving of help than a Palestinian terrorist imprisoned for murdering Jews?

When will the Tories wake up to the fact that the opaque DfID is grossly unpopular and does far more harm than good? Its distribution of British taxpayers’ money is often unaccountable and so vulnerable to corruption. The Prime Minister needs to realise that DfID’s spending sprees are morally unconscionable and must act now to rid us of this detrimental hangover from the Blair years.

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Karen Harradine
Karen Harradine
Karen is an anthropologist and freelance journalist. She writes on anti-Semitism, Israel and spirituality. She is @KarenH777on Twitter.

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