lifted from VG.no
Doctors Without Borders : Norwegian aid controlled by political interests – not actual need
By Frank Haugsbø and Eirik LINAK Berglund
LONDON / Tromsø ( VG ) Each year Norway allocates NOK three billion for humanitarian aid. Frequently, aid is not given in countries where the need is greatest, but in countries where Norway has political interests, the organization Doctors Without Borders claims .
In a new report released Friday , the organization vents harsh criticism of Norwegian aid policies.
– Norway uses humanitarian aid as an instrument to serve political interests rather than helping the people who most need help, Doctors Without Borders states .
The three billion used for humanitarian or emergency aid, constitute ten percent of the total aid budget . The funds are meant to cover basic needs such as food, health care and protection.
Doctors Without Borders has analyzed all the awards for humanitarian projects in 2012. The organization believes there are many examples of funds not going to places where the need is greatest.
– For example, Palestine received NOK 122 million in humanitarian assistance in 2012. In contrast, the Central African Republic received no funds at all. This despite the fact that a Palestinian on average live 24 years longer than a person from the Central African Republic says Atle Fretheim of the Doctors Without Borders to VG.
The report states that Norway’s use of political interests as a criterion in humanitarian funding , violates the principle of impartiality , as is assumed in the Parliamentary Report number 40
– Must cover basic needs
According to the survey the organization has made, aid coordination and protection were given highest priority at the awards last year. Only six percent of emergency funds were used for food aid, and ten percent to health care.
– It is expected that the ten percent ear marked for humanitarian aid actually goes towards meeting basic needs. This is not the case today. Norway does not prioritize the sectors that matter most to people in need, says Fretheim .
Millions for conference activities
During the review Doctors Without Borders found several examples of awards that the organization believes is in violation of the guidelines for the emergency aid funds
– Hundreds of millions go to activities such as conferences or education campaigns that do not directly benefit people in need of aid. It must be questioned whether support for small farmers in Uganda and sports for children and young people in the Middle East are regarded as humanitarian efforts.
Doctors Without Borders believe several states receive more humanitarian aid than the actual needs would suggest. This applies to the Palestinian territories, which have played a central role in Norwegian foreign policy since Norway’s participation in the negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords .
Critical to aid for Palestinians
The report points out that health indicators in Palestine is good , with a life expectancy on par with Hungary .
– A child in Chad is over six times as likely to die before the age of five , as a Palestinian child. Nevertheless Palestine received 3.5 percent of the total humanitarian aid from Norway in 2012, while Chad received 0.00022 percent.
Fretheim emphasizes that the organization does not mind supporting Palestine, but that this aid should be finances from the part of the aid budget reserved for long-term development assistance.
… and critical of Afghanistan funds
Doctors Without Borders also point to Afghanistan , where Norway has increased aid allocations significantly after the start of the ISAF mission in 2001.
– The humanitarian needs in Afghanistan after the invasion is undisputed , but the country had already endured 20 years of civil war. It was only when international troops were on the ground that these needs were relevant to the Norwegian authorities.
MFA : Broad agreement
– I do not want to comment on Doctors without Borders’ criticism of the individual assessment made under previous governments , said State Secretary Hans Brattskar ( H ) in the MFA.
– There is broad agreement on the Norwegian Humanitarian Policy . We are committed to maintaining a high level of humanitarian efforts, and has also gone on to increase support for humanitarian efforts in Syria , the Philippines and Central African Republic. As recently as last Thursday, we increased funding by 20 million to the Central African Republic to the total Norwegian humanitarian aid to the country now amount to 52 million Norwegian kroner for 2013 .
Brattskar says Norway will give NOK 380 million to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund ( CERF ) in 2014 .
– The mandate of this fund is precisely to ensure prompt and effective assistance where need is greatest, also forgotten crises . As for Afghanistan, it is important to emphasize that there has been humanitarian crisis for more than 30 years, and Norway has provided humanitarian support also in the years before 2001 , the junior minister says.