The Swedish aid debate at a forefront in Swedish media
The debate about aid and development has been at a forefront in Swedish media lately, involving Latin America, Israel, Palestine and Sweden itself, since 13,5 percent of the Swedish aid money stays in Sweden. Diakonia is active in the debate, bringing forward positions and arguments from our partner organizations.
Minister wants to phase out Swedish development aid to Latin America
Earlier this year, the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson proposed that the aid to Bolivia, Colombia and Guatemala should be phased out, in order for Sweden to distribute its aid more efficiently. However, Swedish embassies in these countries argue that this would have "devastating consequences", as it would greatly affect human rights and democracy in the countries.
Proposed cutting of aid to Palestinians
In early June, during a visit to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Gunilla Carlsson made the surprising announcement that she plans to cut the aid to Gaza and the West Bank by 200 million SEK (approximately 30 million US Dollars). The reason for this is, claims the minister, the lack of progress in the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
In response to this, Diakonia and several other Swedish aid organizations argued that it is unacceptable to punish Palestinians in this way, and that cutting the aid likely will result in the opposite effect of what Carlsson wants. Other political parties in the Swedish government have also criticized the Minister for her proposal, as they were not consulted on this matter. The EU has also recently stated that the Palestinian areas need more support to strengthen the possibility of peace.
13,5 percent of the aid stays in Sweden
On the 18 of June, Diakonia together with the Swedish Mission Council and the Swedish Pentecostal Churches wrote in an article that 13,5 percent of the total Swedish development aid, stays in Sweden to fund the reception of refugees. Diakonia sees this as unacceptable, as the bilateral aid money allocated to regions - except Sub-Saharan Africa - is less than what is being used for migration issues.
In the article, the organizations also criticize the government for the lack of transparency in producing the new Swedish aid political platform, where civil society has not been invited to take part in the writing of the strategy.
The Minister responds
The Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation responded that the government and civil society organizations do not agree about who should be the recipient of the aid money, and that the ultimate decision is for the government and parliament to make, not the civil society organizations.
In a response, Diakonia expressed it was arrogant of the minister to call civil society organizations "special interest groups", since we are communicating the needs and demands of rights holders living in poverty and under oppression. We also highlighted the results that organizations around the world achieve through aid.