Sunday, July 18, 2010

Foreign aid diverted to stabilise Afghanistan

By Toby Helm and Tracy McVeigh (The Observer)

International development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, will announce plans to boost aid funding to Afghanistan by 40%, while the likes of Russia and China will lose out

Andrew Mitchell MP, secretary for international development. Photograph: Allstar/Dave Gadd

Britain is to cut aid worth hundreds of millions of pounds to countries around the world to help pay for projects aimed at speeding the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the Observer can reveal.

Detailed plans to boost aid funding to Afghanistan by 40% as part of a re-ordering of global priorities will be outlined tomorrow by the international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell.

The news emerged on another bloody day of conflict as four British servicemen were killed in separate incidents in Afghanistan in 24 hours, bringing the military death toll in the country to 322 since 2001.

Mitchell will cite Afghanistan as the main beneficiary of a review of aid to around 90 countries that benefit from the Department for International Development's £2.9bn aid budget.

Countries already expected to experience cuts in UK aid include long-term beneficiaries turned economic powerhouses such as Russia and China. It is understood that the review will also look at cutting or ending aid to a number of countries in South America and eastern Europe. Sources said money would continue to be channelled as a matter of priority to the poorest countries, many in Africa.

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