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19. Oxfam Exposes How Aid Is Used for Political Purposes

In a new report entitled “Whose Aid is it Anyway?”, Oxfam has found that “billions of dollars in international aid, which could have transformed the lives of many people in some of the poorest countries in the world, was spent on unsustainable, expensive and dangerous aid projects that international donor governments used to support their own short-term foreign policy and security objectives.”

This type of aid often bypasses the poorest people and dangerously distorts the line between civilian and military activity. And while contributions from wealthy donors increased between 2001 and 2008, “more than 40 percent of this increase in aid was spent in just two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq.” The remainder was shared by 150 other poor countries.

Last year, the report revealed,  “225 aid workers were killed, injured or kidnapped in violent attacks, compared to 85 in 2002,” partly due to more aid workers assisting in violent places but often due to “an increase in politically-motivated attacks.” In Somalia, for instance, with a population desparately in need of help, aid between 2008 and 2010 dropped drastically after groups in control of large sections of central/southern Somalia were listed as terrorists by the US government. US law requires aid groups to end funding if they cannot guarantee that aid will not reach the proscribed groups.


“Oxfam warns against trend in using aid for political & military purposes,“ Oxfam International, 10 February 2011.

Student Researcher: Nzinga Dotson-Newman, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University

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