THE UK SAID today it would withhold £21 million (€25.9 million) in aid to Rwanda following concerns over its support of rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The announcement by International Development Secretary Justine Greening follows the widely-criticised decision by her predecessor Andrew Mitchell to restore a tranche of aid in September following its suspension in July.
Britain meanwhile said it would give a further £18 million to provide 100,000 people in DR Congo with food, water, household items and emergency education, as the advance of M23 rebels sparks fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.
“The government has already set out its concerns over credible and compelling reports of Rwandan involvement with M23 in DRC,” Greening said in a statement.
“This evidence constitutes a breach of the partnership principles set out in the memorandum of understanding, and as a result I have decided not to release the next payment of budget support to Rwanda.”
Under these principles, Britain will only provide aid to governments who show strong action on reducing poverty, tackling corruption, improving accountability and meeting international obligations to support peace and respect human rights.
“We are committed to finding lasting solutions to the conflict in this region and will work with the governments of Rwanda and DRC to secure a peaceful resolution to the situation in eastern DRC,” Greening said.
Britain is the second largest bilateral donor to Rwanda after the United States and had been due to grant £75 million this year, of which £37 million was general budget support payable directly to the government.
Over the four previous years, Britain paid out about £265 million in total aid to Rwanda, according to officials.
Britain suspended its aid in July along with other Western donors after a UN report accused Rwandan officials of backing army mutineers in eastern DR Congo, who formed a rebel group called M23. Rwanda strongly denied this.
In September, however, outgoing international development minister Andrew Mitchell said half the suspended funds — £8 million — would be paid to the government as planned and the other half donated through alternative channels.
Greening’s action blocks £21 million of general budget support which was due to be paid in December.