Thursday, April 12, 2007

British Charities in the Middle East Harmed by UK Foreign Policy

Source: UK foreign policy hits relief, says Oxfam -

Oxfam, Save the Children UK, and other British charities warn that UK’s foreign policy is hampering their efforts to provide disaster relief and reconstruction assistance in developing countries. In particular, aid programs in Lebanon and Iraq find it increasingly difficult to gain the trust of the local people who fail to distinguish between the British government’s policies and charities that happen to be based in the UK and that receive a significant portion of their funding from the British government.

Since the Iraq war began in 2003, Oxfam has provided over £800,000 of assistance in Iraq. However, they are unable to work in some provinces, in part, due to the presence of British troops. Save the Children UK, active in Lebanon since 1949, has experienced increased hostility there since the UK failed to call for a ceasefire during the latest Israeli-Lebanon conflict.


Should multinational charities refuse funding from national governments to avoid the misperception that they are an extension of the government? Would such charities have a better reception in the developing world if they moved their headquarters to a more neutral location, such as Switzerland? Should British charities continue their efforts to reach out to skeptical or even hostile communities because these communities are in greatest need? Should the charities continue to provide aid for the sake of improving public relations by demonstrating the “goodwill” of the British people?

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