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Devastating impact of aid cuts

The Irish government has just announced that the aid budget is to be cut by another €100 million.

€222 million cut

This latest cut in overseas aid is the fourth in just over 10 months. €95 million was cut in February 2009, €15 million in October 2008 and €45 million in July 2008. The cumulative figure represents total cuts in overseas aid of €222 million in less than a year.

 

Today’s cut, together with February’s cut, represents 24% of the 2009 overseas development aid budget as published by the government in October 2008.

Projects forced to close

To cut overseas aid on this scale is hugely disproportionate. We realise that the Irish government finds itself with tough choices to make at home. However, this latest cut means that certain overseas projects– many of which are quite literally a matter of life or death – will forced to close altogether or scaled down significantly. 

This will have very serious humanitarian ramifications in the developing world. This comes at a time when the developed world needs to keep its aid promises to the poorest developing countries.

Suffering from hunger

Last year alone, an additional 40 million people in developing countries joined the ranks of the hungry and malnourished, due to rising food prices. This has brought the total number of people now suffering from hunger to 963 million. This is expected to reach one billion people by the end of 2009.

Broken promises

Ireland gained huge respect internationally when it announced at the UN in 2000 its commitment to reach 0.7% aid target by 2007. This works out as just 70 cent in every €100.

In 2005, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern recommitted Ireland, again at the UN, to that target by 2012. Today’s cut means there is now a very real risk of Ireland not reaching this target.

Moral support

It is part of our DNA as Irish people that we have a real sense of moral, practical and political support for people in the poorest and most vulnerable of circumstances. Humanitarian aid is one of the things that Ireland does well and for which we have received international plaudits.

This latest cut seriously undermines our international reputation for our sense of fairness, justice and solidarity.

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