UK stops £21m aid payment to Rwanda

M23 rebels withdraw from the town of Sake in eastern Congo Violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has drawn international condemnation

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The UK has suspended aid to Rwanda amid concerns about its role in the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The International Development Secretary Justine Greening said a payment worth £21m would not now be released.

An aid payment of £16m was paid to Rwanda in September despite questions over the country's alleged support for the M23 militia in DR Congo.

Her predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, controversially authorised the payment on his last day in the job.

Ms Greening said the money, which was due to be paid next month, would not be released because President Paul Kagame's government had breached agreements.

She pointed to fresh evidence presented by UN experts earlier this month about Rwanda's role in the conflict, describing it as "credible and compelling".

"We are committed to finding lasting solutions to the conflict in this region and will work with the governments of Rwanda and DRC to secure a peaceful resolution to the situation in eastern DRC," she said.

She said the government would give a further £18m for immediate humanitarian needs in the DR Congo.

Mr Mitchell, who had previously frozen aid to the country, had cited progress at international talks as the reason for reinstating the payment.

Half of the aid package was paid as "general budget support" and half directly to the education and agriculture sectors.


The rebel advance in recent weeks has made tens of thousands of Congolese homeless.

Britain is increasing its aid to Congo by £18m to help them.

Although these moves will annoy the Rwandan government and please the authorities in Congo, they are unlikely to change the fundamentals of the war.

Rwanda backs one set of rebels because the weak Congolese government allows another armed group, which is opposed to the government in Rwanda, to operate from Congolese soil.

Adjusting British aid flows is unlikely to change that situation anytime soon.

In a report, the international development select committee said it "did not understand" how he had concluded the state was no longer backing the M23.

"Mr Mitchell has assured us that he carried out extensive consultations within the UK government and with the government of Rwanda before making his decision. The new secretary of state agreed that the decision-making process had been robust," the report said.

Downing Street denied this had been a mistake, saying the government "stands by the decision".

Mr Mitchell said it was made by the government, not just his department.

"It was the right decision when we made it in September just as today the Secretary of State has made the right decision because of the change in the DRC," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

President Kagame has been praised for improving the economic and social conditions in the east African country since he came to power at the end of the 1994 genocide, in which some 800,000 people died.

But a UN report claims Rwanda's defence minister is effectively commanding the rebellion group in the east of the DR Congo (DRC). The BBC has uncovered evidence that Rwandan support for the rebels may be more widespread than previously believed.

'Harm Rwanda'

Rwanda's Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, claimed the decision had been made on the basis of "false, politically-motivated allegations" in the UN report.

Shadow international development secretary Ivan Lewis welcomed the "belated" decision to suspend aid, and accused Mr Mitchell of a "serious misjudgement".

He said: "It is now important that aid continues to reach the poorest and most vulnerable in Rwanda and the DRC.

"We never accused Andrew Mitchell of being a rogue minister. However, recent developments have demonstrated his decision to unilaterally reinstate budget support to the government of Rwanda was a serious misjudgement."

Pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance said it was "appalling" that any taxpayers' money had gone "directly to a government involved in a proxy war".

Campaign manager Robert Oxley added: "This announcement leaves a huge question mark over why Dfid, and specifically Andrew Mitchell, reinstated the aid programme to the Rwandan government which was fanning the flames of conflict in DRC."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I think we should end most aid. That would save billions which should be used to provide hundreds of thousands of quality vocational training courses at college for young people. The eduction would be at a high standard and some of the money could be used to help them start small businesses afterwards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    I wonder where Bono stands on this issue. Considering he is a tax dodger who does not contribute his fair share (like Camerons buddies in the city) he like the corrupt dictators we fund would be outraged. Lets heat our OAPs homes and make sure they are fed, forget these AK47 carrying nations who think that war and Religion is more important than progression.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    But if we don't give them aid money, who's going to make a tidy profit for Mr Cameron's weapon dealing friends that he seems to take everywhere?
    - Taxed from the poor of rich nations
    - Given to the rich of poor nations
    - Spent via the rich of rich nations
    When it comes to private sector cronyism, taxation without representation seems to be all the rage!

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    #97. "An Image of a baby with rib cage sticking through skin would have you all waving cheques."

    Well it worked for Bob Geldof last time, didn't it? Sad thing is, even you wanted to help the money doesn't get through. It took a long time, but everyone is now seeing through the con that aid is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    I agree, we should stop providing aid if it goes to corrupt politicians, I don't want to fund murder in another country. But don't believe our government will put that money to good use for the people of the UK, that would be wishful thinking.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Why are we giving aid to other countries when so many children live in poverty in the UK? Our schools and hospitals are underfunded and our own charities have to beg the public for money in order to continue running. We have to have a review of what we give to other countries and how it is used by often very corrupt officials and regimes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    @90 Wayfaerer

    'You're so right, how dare they chose to leave the Empire. ..... all they had to do was live in servitude and forgo independence and freedom.'

    Whereas post independence Africa is a beacon of freedom?

    And at least they were living.

    On the eve of independence (1980) Zimbabwe had an average life expectancy of 59 years. By 2003 this had dropped to 43.

    Epic mismanagement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    We are borrowing money from overseas to give back overseas, leaving us with yet more debt piling up. WHEN will we learn??

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I suspect that the majority of foreign aid is used to pay off corrupt foreign politicians who are prepared to turn a blind eye to the signing of lucrative contracts with large mining companies who continue to exploit the natural resources and people of Africa.

    Must be great when large private corporations can get the taxpayer to pay their bungs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.


    Why we are borrowing money to give it away to keep dictators in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to and to fund wars between neighbouring countries, is completely beyond me

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    thats great but were is the money coming from please tell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I feel sad for poorer countries, but it's down to their own governents to make sure they are provided for. You don't see their leaders poor do you?
    Our money should be spent on the good of our own country and our own people, because it's US that has paid into the future of our country. We should reap any benefits

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    This removal of foreign aid should also be extended to events such as red nose day etc which only actually fuel corruption in Africa. Africa's problem is not money...its actually quite wealthy...its corruption. I have heard of clothes sent to Mozambique from clothes banks being sorted for the brand names and resold on. Brick houses being rented out by the poor that they were built for..ridiculous.

  • Comment number 110.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    This is good news.

    Perhaps our Government will immediately spend this money on much needed flood defences for our tax payers in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    This £21m could pay for 3 Leveson enquiries, the recommendations of which could be subsequently ignored.

    Or we could just pass on yet another tax break to the super rich.

    There are a thousand things we could, and should, sort out before we even consider withdrawing the help we give to the world's most desperate people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    As our we have halted money intended for Rwanda lets give to people here at starting with our OAP and in addition the people who hve lost the house hold contents in the flood waters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I am a small country that needs help! i can start a conflict if it helps me to get dosh! I promise not to spend it on anything other than for my own people. promise, promise, promise guv!
    When is my first payment comming???
    ps a brand new Merc would be nice too and would suit my French style Chateau, recently build on some other country Aid donation!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    If I thought that those in need ever benefited from monetary aid, perhaps I would consider this differently. However, as money is often squandered by corrupt politicians and military leaders, I don't think we should ever give monetary aid to any country. Send people with medical help, food supplies, childhood vaccinations etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    As much as we often feel we need to give aid to these countries, surely by now we KNOW that virtually all of it (certainly from our Government) ends up in the private banks of the tin pot dictators and their cronies - either to be ferreted away into Offshore bank accounts or to create an opulent life style whilst their fellow countrymen starve.

    Any money left over then buys AK47's and "loyalty".


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