UK to bypass Rwandan government to spend £16m aid

1 Mar 13
The UK government is to circumvent the Rwandan government and channel its aid to the country via development agencies and directly to people on the ground.

The move follows concerns about the country’s financial support for rebels fighting in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Justine Greening, the UK International Development Secretary, decided in November to withhold a £21m aid payment following ‘credible and compelling’ reports of Rwandan involvement with the M23 rebel group in DR Congo.

She has now announced that £16m of this package will be ‘reprogrammed’. Over half (£9m) will be spent as cash grants or cash for work payments for 545,000 of the poorest people in the central African nation. Small regular payments will be made directly to individuals.

A further £4.4m grant will be sent to textbook suppliers to provide 1.8 million books to primary and secondary school pupils across Rwanda.

The UK Department for International Development will also provide emergency relief for 20,000 refugees. Working through the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees and Children’s Fund, the £2m programme will provide sleeping mats, medicines and other materials at refugee camps in Rwanda over the next year.

Money will also be spent on setting up early child development centres and education support programmes.

Greening said today: ‘The reprogrammed development assistance will be channelled through projects that directly reach and protect the poorest people in Rwanda.

‘In line with my earlier decision regarding the breach of the partnership principles, it is not appropriate to release any of these funds as general budget support.’

The DFID noted that payment of the remaining £5m and any future general budget support for the Rwandan government would depend on its commitment to the development assistance partnership principles that it breached last year.

Since the aid was halted in November, the M23 rebels have withdrawn from the eastern DR Congo city of Goma, and the Rwandan government has engaged ‘constructively’ with the ongoing peace process, the department noted.

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