Africa: Global Aid Spending Drops As Refugee Flows Decrease - OECD

Refugees in Uganda's Imvepi Camp.

London — As global refugee flows fell last year, so did aid from rich countries, official data showed on Wednesday, tumbling for the second consecutive year, and hindering efforts to end poverty.

Major donors spent $149.3 billion on aid in 2018, a decrease of 2.7 percent compared to the year before, according to preliminary figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This was mostly due to a 28 percent drop in spending on hosting and processing refugees, which cost about $10.6 billion in 2018, the Paris-based think-tank said.

About 116,000 refugees and migrants entered Europe in 2018, said the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the lowest since more than a million arrived in 2015, when the continent experienced its largest influx since World War Two.

Rich countries need to increase aid spending if the world is to achieve 17 global development goals, seeking to end poverty and hunger and tackle climate change, which were agreed in 2015 by U.N. member states and estimated to cost $3 trillion a year.

Yet bilateral aid to the world's poorest countries fell by 3 percent to $27.6 billion while humanitarian aid dropped by 8 percent to $15.3 billion, data showed.

"Donor countries are not living up to their 2015 pledge to ramp up development finance and this bodes badly for us being able to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, in a statement.

Only five of the 30 major donors who make up the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) - Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Britain - met a U.N. target of spending 0.7 percent of national income on development aid last year.

"It's a travesty that in 2019, so many world leaders are turning their backs on people stuck at the bottom, leaving them without any way to even escape poverty," said Claire Godfrey, head of policy at Bond, the UK network for development agencies.

"Poverty, inequality, climate change and injustice are all set to increase globally unless other political leaders step up to the plate," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.

Overall, the DAC countries spent just 0.31 percent of their combined gross national income on aid, the same figure as 2017.

The OECD said the United States remained the largest donor in 2018 giving $34.3 billion, followed by Germany, Britain, Japan and France.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katy Migiro. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, and covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and slavery, property rights, social innovation, resilience and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)

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