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OECD spend on refugees doubled to US$12b in 2015
[PARIS] OECD countries more than doubled spending on the migrant crisis last year to US$12 billion, the organisation said on Wednesday.
"Countries have had to find large sums to cover the costs of a historic refugee crisis in Europe, and most have so far avoided diverting money from development programmes," the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.
An unprecedented 1.5 million people claimed asylum in OECD countries in 2015, including more than a million in Europe.
In Austria, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, refugee costs accounted for more than 20 per cent of aid expenditure in 2015, the 34-member organisation said in a report.
"Governments... need to develop long-term options for meeting future refugee costs and the integration of refugees in our societies, while ensuring at the same time that ODA (official development assistance) reaches those countries and people that need it the most," OECD chief Angel Gurria said.
The outlays for hosting refugees accounted for the bulk of a 6.9 per cent increase in development aid for the year, but excluding the funds spent on refugees, aid was still up 1.7 per cent in real terms, the OECD said.
"Measured in real terms - correcting for inflation and for a sharp depreciation in many... currencies against the dollar last year - (aid) is up 83 percent since 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals were agreed," the report said.
The report covered the 28 of the OECD's member states that make up the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
Of those, only six countries - Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Britain - met a UN target to keep aid at or above 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI), the report noted.
The average for the DAC countries was 0.3 per cent of GNI, the same level as in 2014.
"We need to remember that the best way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and avoid future refugee crises is to continue the current momentum of aid flows, particularly to the neediest and most fragile countries," said DAC chairman Erik Solheim.