Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Irish Government announces devastating development aid cuts

Concord press release, 04 February 2009

The Irish government yesterday slashed Official Development Assistance to developing countries by 95 million Euros or more than or 10% of its overall budget for 2009, barely 2 months after the UN Doha Summit on the financing of Development aid. NGOs across Europe have expressed shock and deep concern at this act by Ireland usually considered as a progressive European development donor.

At a time when the financial crisis and global recession is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable hardest, this cut will have huge implications for the many developing countries receiving vital aid from the Irish government.

This represents the latest in a round of aid cuts from European donors. It signals a dangerous trend which threatens the Millennium Development Goals' commitments so vital to alleviating poverty in poor countries. Last December Italy announced aid cuts of 56%, and Latvia, which recently became a donor of development aid, released a statement last month announcing a 100% cut to its aid budget.

Jasmine Burnley, coordinator of CONCORD’s AidWatch initiative said “Europe is the world's biggest and most progressive aid donor with an aim to provide 80% of the world’s aid, some 67 billion euros, by 2010.”

“However we are seeing massive reduction of these targets. Cuts by Italy, Latvia and now Ireland have come as a triple whammy to developing countries. The decline in support from EU donors threatens efforts to tackle global poverty and inequality in the world.” she added.

The Irish aid cuts will mean that poor countries such as Malawi, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, could well see the suspension of funding to vital basic services such as education and health.

European NGOs acknowledge that in this time of crisis, EU governments face difficult choices, but cutting to aid to poor countries is not the answer. “If we want economic growth with global stability, we need to work towards a fair and just world" says Hans Zomer of Dóchas, the Irish national platform of development NGOs, "Ireland needs to invest in developing countries, not turn its back on the poor when times get tough”

CONCORD, the European Confederation for Development and Relief NGOs calls for European governments to join it in urging the Irish government to reverse this cut, and honour their own aid promises.


• Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, Tel. +35 85-728 3258
• Éamonn Casey, Dóchas Policy Officer, Tel. +35 87-950 6222
• Jasmine Burnley, CONCORD, +32 2 743 87 64

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