Countries in Africa are losing money to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and others supporting the Syrian refugee crisis, according to figures that have raised fresh concerns about the use of the British aid budget.
The report, published on Wednesday, also revealed a massive rise in aid spending channelled though government departments other than international development, prompting fears over transparency and accountability.
Such spending increased by almost 50% between 2015 and 2016, including aid money going into funds that, overseen by the national security council, have been criticised for their lack of accountability. There are also fears that overseas aid money is being channelled into government departments that have suffered austerity cuts.
Overall, the British aid spend rose by 10% to £13.3bn in 2016, a rise of £1.2m compared with 2015. Overseas development assistance (ODA) to Africa was down by £20m in 2016, compared with the previous year, while aid spending to countries in Asia and Europe hosting Syrian and other refugees was up £67m and £79m respectively.
The latest figures, published at a time of intense scrutiny of UK aid, come amid warnings from NGOs and some MPs that the way the budget is spent could sideline Britain’s focus on helping the world’s poorest. Both Theresa May and Priti Patel, the international development secretary, have stated they will continue to uphold the UN overseas spending target of 0.7 % of national income, despite fierce campaigning among backbench Tories and others for the UK to abandon it.
Labour MP Stephen Doughty, a member of the international development select committee, said he had concerns about the diversion of aid to other government departments.
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