Britain to double aid to Middle East NGOs

Britain plans to double the amount of aid it gives to NGOs in the Middle East, according to a report in state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. 

The country has spent about LE50 million to fund 47 projects in nine Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt and Tunisia, the paper said, citing information from the British Foreign Ministry.

Al-Ahram quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying that aid to the Middle East would double in 2012.

"We work transparently and announce the names of organizations that receive financial assistance," the spokesperson said, adding that the British government may inform Arab governments about this aid if necessary.

The statements follow the Egyptian government's review of NGO funding amid accusations that foreign governments pay local organizations to promote their own interests.

The UK solicits input from British NGOs in selecting Middle Eastern projects for funding that can bolster political participation and the rule of law, create jobs, develop the private sector, fight corruption or empower people to express their opinions, among other goals.

In June, US Ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson said her country had given US$40 million to a number of Egypt-based human rights organizations since the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

The Egyptian government claims this and other foreign funding threatens state sovereignty.

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