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We act like part of Nato, says former Oxfam official

This article is over 10 years, 9 months old
Giant aid organisations are inseparable from the British establishment that pays for them.
Issue 2342

Giant aid organisations are inseparable from the British establishment that pays for them.

Oxfam is just one example of these groups.

More than a quarter of Oxfam’s funding comes directly from the state.

Much of the rest comes from large corporations and the enormous retail chain that makes it Europe’s biggest high street bookseller.

Oxfam is credited with diverting the Make Poverty History campaign away from criticism of Western trade policies and towards backing Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

It approved white wristbands for the campaign that it knew had been made in sweatshops.

Oxfam has used public money to expand “microfinance” schemes.

These schemes give credit to poor people who don’t have access to banks.

There has been much hype about how this empowers women and cuts poverty.


But the most common result has been to plunge poor people deeper into debt.

In warzones Oxfam works hand in hand with Western armies.

“Huge amounts of aid are going to Afghanistan and it is really about winning the war,” according to former Oxfam official Tony Vaux.

“Aid is being used as part of the military strategy.”

Tony Vaux quit Oxfam after the 1999 war in Kosovo. He wrote a book called The Selfish Altruist.

In it he wrote, “As the bombing became more and more indiscriminate, I realised that I was not on the side of the poor and suffering but of an awesome punitive power with its own objectives”.

Vaux described Oxfam staff who had worked closely with Nato troops.

He concluded that, “We had not behaved as impartial humanitarians but as part of Nato”.

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