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Keep UK development work focused on ending poverty, urges Christian Aid

In response to today’s speech at the Royal College of Defence Studies by Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Jude Mackenzie, Associate Director of Christian Aid, said:

‘Christian Aid welcomes the Secretary of State’s emphasis on the need for greater coherence across Whitehall and in particular, his recognition of the importance - and value for money - of pre-emptive efforts to stop conflicts before they begin.

‘However, we are concerned that the moral case for development should not be lost in cross-departmental decision-making. While it is clear that UK national security benefits from effective aid and development, security must not be put before poverty eradication.

‘A view of aid as driven by UK national security concerns would also be incompatible with the British public's repeatedly demonstrated desire to reach out to those in need without regard to national security, as seen in the overwhelming response to the Haiti earthquake. Furthermore, it would be incompatible with DFID's mandate to use all its resources on the single goal of poverty eradication.

‘A particular danger of viewing aid as a means of furthering our national security is that the government might end up in a cul-de-sac, focusing on a small number of countries of immediate security concern at the expense of DFID’s highly-regarded and effective role of supporting genuine development progress in more than a hundred countries.’

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For more information please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446, 07545 501 749 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk