UK urged to rethink Malawi aid, ‘switch it’

Britain has been asked to rethink its plans to cut its budgetary support to Malawi and other despotic and homophobic regimes, according to a petition by African social justice activists comprising of 53 human rights NGOs.

Malawi and other Commonwealth nations with that have laws punishing homosexuality or restricting the rights of gay peoplem, have been warned that they risk not receiving aid from London.

But African social justice activists backed by Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation have urged British government not to cut aid but rather re-direct it to communities.

Tatchell: UK wrong to threaten aid cut, re-direct it to communities

Tatchell, who vigorously helped in the campaign for the release in prison of Malawi’s first openly gay couple, said in a statement he made available to Nyasa Times that the threat to cut aid made by UK Prime Minster is “wrong.”

He noted: “Although these abuses are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law, cuts in aid would penalise the poorest, most vulnerable people. Many are dependent on aid for basic needs like food, clean water, health care and education.”

Tatchell suggested that Britain and other donor nations instead of cutting aid should divert their money from human rights abusing governments and redirect it to grassroots, community-based humanitarian projects that respect human rights and do not discriminate in their service provision.

“These frontline, on-the-ground projects tend to deliver the most cost-effective aid that gets most directly to the people who need it,” he said.

“By redirecting aid in this way, abusive governments are punished but poor people are not penalised. They continue to receive the aid they need.”

The right campaigner said any sanctions “must always be targeted at human rights abusers, not at the general population.”

Meanwhile, Malawi Council of Churches says the country should not be forced to accept homosexuality in exchange for anything and says UK threat is “provocative”.

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