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Aid Agencies Warn Against Misuse of Aid for Detention Centres

Aug 31, 2012

Australia’s peak body for aid organisations, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is alarmed at reports today that funds from the Australian aid program may be misdirected to pay for some of the $3 billion cost of reopening detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

“Aid dollars are meant to be spent on education, health and humanitarian disasters, not locking people up,” said ACFID’s Executive Director Marc Purcell. “A decision to use any portion of Australia’s aid program on detention centres would amount to a misuse of Australian taxpayer dollars. Australians support foreign aid because it provides opportunities and hope for people wanting to escape the cycle of poverty.”

According to Mr Purcell, the reported $3 billion over four years required to reopen detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, amounted to over half of Australia’s current aid program.
Mr. Purcell noted that the purpose of Australia’s aid program is to help people overcome poverty.

“As aid organisations, we support regional solutions which address poverty and conflict in countries such as Afghanistan, Burma and Sri Lanka, the very same countries from which many asylum seekers flee,” said Mr. Purcell.

“Australian aid should not be used as a political sweetener for the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru in return for detaining asylum seekers.”

The Organisation for Cooperation and Development (OECD) of which Australia is a member does not currently allow for Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to be used for immigration detention.

Media Contact: Nicole Cardinal 02 6285 1219

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