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Good news! Here’s proof your voice matters for the world’s poorest

DFID-UK Department for International Development

The voices of global citizens around the world just moved one step closer to stopping rich countries sliding further down a slippery slope.

Here's your story.

Last week, representatives from wealthy nations gathered behind closed doors to agree to new rules on international aid. The new rules are not what you would call fair.  In a nutshell, governments can now divert international aid money away from the world's poor, and towards peace and security projects. What this means in practice is not clear, but the change allows governments to use money originally intended for international aid on projects like training for military personnel in non-combat zones, or civil policing. 

To add more disappointment, decision-makers failed to commit to helping desperate refugees without harming the world’s poorest, because they are still considering options to divert international aid funding to help refugees inside Europe. Wealthy nations are therefore “still pitting the most vulnerable against each other,” a false choice that is grossly unfair on all sides.

So with less than a month until the next DAC meeting, global citizens raised their voices to stop rich countries pursuing this unjust and dangerous course. And it worked!

Global citizens took urgent action against these decisions by tweeting Erik Solheim, Chair of the Development Assistance Committee overseeing these negotiations. Within hours of receiving your tweets, Solheim was compelled to respond directly to your demands:

What's next?

While 140-characters may not seem all that much, Solheim’s response proves that your voice does count.  When global citizens speak, decision-makers listen. Still, we can’t settle for just words.  It's a great sign that the DAC are prepared to “look into refugee costs,” but the world’s poor need a more concrete commitment than that.

Almost 100,000 people have signed a petition urging rich countries to help refugees without sacrificing projects designed to fight global poverty. Now it’s time keep up the pressure and make sure Solheim and the DAC fulfil their responsibility to protect the poorest. We should not have to choose between providing safety for refugees and working to end poverty - we can, and must, do both.