21 November 2012

Rwanda: No Aid for M23, Says Dutch Minister


Three days before M23 rebels took control of the Congolese city of Goma, RNW were speaking with the Netherlands new minister for foreign trade and development cooperation. On behalf of the foreign affairs ministry, which will be financing RNW as of 2013, Lilianne Ploumen told us how she foresees Dutch engagement in the region. Here's a clip from our exchange about the DRC.

Can you guarantee that Dutch aid will not end up in the pockets of M23 rebels in view of the fact that the Netherlands is still one of the big international donors to Rwanda and its president, Paul Kagame, is being accused of supporting the M23 rebels?

"The Netherlands has already frozen direct aid to Rwanda. This means Dutch aid doesn't go to rebels. If we stop giving aid, we also quit programmes with a positive influence on development. Sometimes you have to."

"We want to discuss complex issues in a relationship between countries. We have to check how Dutch aid is being spent. If there are reasons to frown - which is the case in Rwanda today - this will lead to action."

RNW keeps hearing from young Africans things like "Stop giving aid! Western aid destroys our market and corrupts our leaders." What will you do about this?

"We have to accept that aid has led to good things, but not only to good things. To me, it's really important that Africans spread this message. They are our partners in the process towards good governance."

"Under certain conditions, we support civil societies and not just governments. The Netherlands has invested in water and health, but also in free speech."

You are a former director of the NGO Cordaid. Doesn't the aid industry just keep itself alive instead of help people?

"The NGOs I know are staffed by very concerned people. Of course, I've seen that in some countries, NGOs have worked over the heads of people. I have observed that there's sometimes a lack of coordination. But I don't believe that NGOs just keep themselves alive. There is too much at stake."

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