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NGOs tell German government: Don't 'instrumentalize' development work

Aid organizations have warned Berlin about instrumentalizing development work to further national interests. Germany's next government needs to focus less on curbing migration and more on crisis prevention, they said.

With refugees and immigration policies serving as one of the main stumbling stones in Germany's ongoing coalition talks, NGOs cautioned on Friday against the rising trend of development aid being used to further Germany's political goals at home.

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"There's a growing danger that the use of development funds will be more determined by the domestic debate on migration management and security than by the shared responsibility of a rich, industrialized country for sustainable global development," Germany's Welthungerhilfe, an organization that fights hunger worldwide, and the child welfare organization Terre des Hommes said in their annual joint report.

"Human rights are in danger of falling by the wayside," they added.

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The report, titled "Compass 2030: The Reality of German Development Policy" urged that development policy "must not be instrumentalized" by Germany's next government to further migration or internal security goals.

The charity organizations advised against folding development policy into Germany's Foreign Ministry, saying it should be treated as an independent policy area. They expressed concern that development initiatives would get lost in the competition between Germany's ministries.

"The new legislative period presents and opportunity for a strategy debate on how development cooperation will be organized in the future," the report "Compass 2030: The Reality of German Development Policy" states.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders have been pushing for more development cooperation with African nations to boost their economies and create jobs in order to reduce the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe.

The G20 action plan agreed upon in Hamburg this summer took an "every man for himself" approach to carrying out development initiatives in African countries rather than agreeing on common, binding goals, the NGOs said.

They cited three separate economic initiatives for Africa from Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Finance Ministry (BMF) and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as "prime examples of competing rather than coherent policies."

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Combatting the cause, not the symptom

Welthungerhilfe and Terre des Hommes also called on the next German government to put more effort into preventing conflicts rather than fueling them.

Germany should "no longer speak about combatting the causes of migration while at the same time arming countries engaged in conflicts, like Saudi Arabia," Terre des Hommes board spokesman Jörg Angerstein said in a statement.

"A policy that seeks to fight the causes of migration must also address the number one cause — conflicts and instability," the report stated, adding that "migration can neither be stopped nor decisively controlled."

Development aid can only help reduce the number of people who flee their home countries "due to a lack of perspectives and political participation" by improving their living conditions.

rs/kms (AFP, dpa, KNA)

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