Dutch aid spending hits 0.5% of GDP as refugee support eats into budget
The Netherlands no longer meets the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of GDP on development aid because of the cost of housing refugees, the Volkskrant says on Thursday.
The extra spending on refugees has eaten up one-fifth of the aid budget this year, leaving just 0.5% for actual development work, the paper says.
Oxfam Novib, which looked into the impact of the extra spending on refugees, said the fall in aid is a ‘disgrace’ for a government which wants to ensure refugees stay closer to conflict zones.
In addition, the government considers structural investments in the poorest countries one way to stop migration, the aid group pointed out.
‘The government does not practice what it preaches,’ said ChristenUnie MP Joel Voordewind. He successfully submitted a motion to parliament last week calling on the government to set aside more cash specifically to help refugees without taking money from the aid budget.
Aid group Cordaid has also criticised the use of development money for ‘non development relevant issues’ such as housing refugees.
The Netherlands was for years one of the few countries to meet the UN target, but that began to change when the government started making sharp cuts. The Netherlands contributed 0.64% of its gross national product to development aid in 2014, well below the United Nations agreed standard.
During last week’s 2016 budget presentation, it emerged that spending on refugees in the Netherlands will reach €836m this year.
This weekend, the UN is to sign new commitments on development aid to run until 2030. Prime minister Mark Rutte, king Willem-Alexander and queen Máxima will all be at the general assembly.