Britain can be proud of the quality of its overseas development work and Christian Aid fully supports the Government’s move towards the UN target of 0.7% of gross national income on overseas aid by the end of this year.
However, we would be deeply concerned about any moves to link aid with military spending in fragile states, not least because of the risk it can pose to aid workers on the ground. Aid diverted to ‘security, peacekeeping and demobilisation’ could have long term implications.
The blurring of the lines between military action and aid delivery could mean that aid workers become associated with those forces, meaning they are not only put at risk, but find it hard to gain the trust of the people they are trying to help.
Crises in Syria, Mali and other contexts highlight how important it is that DfID (Department for International Development) funding continues to support the humanitarian and development needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected people.
Humanitarian agencies working in conflict need to be able to distance themselves from military objectives in order to be seen to be neutral.
Blurring the lines between aid and military objectives will not only reduce the resources available to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, it also risks the access and safety of aid workers.
– Sorcha O'Callaghan, head of humanitarian policy at the British Red Cross
Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer, said security and overseas aid were "inextricably linked".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I absolutely understand the need for overseas aid although not necessarily at this level.
"But I do see that so much of the aid we have attempted to spend in the past in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has not been delivered as effectively as it might because of the lack of a benign security environment.
"If that means more money has to be spent on defence in order to increase the efficacy of overseas aid spending, I'm all for it."
Oxfam's head of policy Max Lawson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the aid budget should be spent on "hospitals and not helicopter gunships".
The millions of people up and down the country who support the fantastic stance the Government is taking, protecting the aid budget when every other G8 nation is not doing that - they expect this to be spent on schools and not soldiers.
So we cannot see any penny diverted into the military.
It's a very small proportion of Government spending, we think it's great the Government is doing it and we think British people expect this to be spent on hospitals and not helicopter gunships.
The Prime Minister has said the government is considering spending money from the aid budget on peacekeeping and other defence-related projects.
Such a move would see millions of pounds being diverted from the Department for International Development to the Ministry of Defence.
Speaking to reporters on his way back from India, David Cameron said he intends to protect all £10 billion of Britain's aid budget, 0.7% of national income, but that he was "very open" to the idea of pooling resources between departments.
He said the money would comply with international aid spending rules and not be used for combat mission or equipment.