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Sunday 26 October  
Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation
Sophie van Leeuwen's picture
Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Interview: No aid for M23, says Dutch minister

Published on : 21 November 2012 - 5:00am | By Sophie van Leeuwen (Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen)
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Rebels claim control of Goma

Rebels widely believed to be backed by Rwanda claimed control of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, parading through the frontier city of one million people past UN peacekeepers who did nothing to stop them.

Hundreds of fighters from the M23 group entered Goma after days of clashes with UN-backed Congolese soldiers that forced tens of thousands of residents to flee. A senior UN source told Reuters that international peacekeepers had given up defending the city after the Congolese troops evacuated.

Read more here

Source: Reuters

Three days before M23 rebels took control of the Congolese city of Goma, RNW was speaking with the Netherlands' new minister for foreign trade and development cooperation. On behalf of the foreign affairs ministry, which will be financing RNW as of 2013, Lilianne Ploumen briefed us on how she foresees Dutch aid in the DRC and surrounds.

Can you guarantee that Dutch aid will not end up in the pockets of M23 rebels? The Netherlands is still a big international donor to Rwanda and its president, Paul Kagame, is being accused of supporting the M23 rebels.
“The Netherlands has already frozen budget support to the Rwandan government. This means Dutch aid doesn’t go to rebels..."

"We want to discuss complex issues in a relationship between countries. We have to check how Dutch aid is being spent. If there are reasons to frown – as is the case with the Rwandan government today – we will take action.”

RNW keeps hearing from young Africans things like “Stop giving aid! Western aid destroys our market and corrupts our leaders.” What will you do about this?
“We have to accept that aid has led to good things, but not only to good things. To me, it’s really important that Africans spread this message. They are our partners in the process of building good governance.”

“Under certain conditions, we support civil society and not just governments. The Netherlands has invested in water and health, but also in free speech.”

You are a former director of the NGO Cordaid. Doesn’t the aid industry just keep itself alive instead of help people?
“The NGOs I know are staffed by very concerned people. Of course, I've seen that in some countries, NGOs have worked over the heads of people. I have observed that there's sometimes a lack of coordination. But I don't believe that NGOs just keep themselves alive. There is too much at stake.”

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