Human rights concerns spark aid withdrawal from Tanzania

19 Nov 18

The World Bank and the Danish government have pulled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and loans from Tanzania over human rights concerns.

The World Bank confirmed to PF International it had scrapped plans to loan the country $300m after the country reaffirmed its policy of banning girls who are pregnant from school.

The money from the bank, which was part of a total funding package of $500m, was scheduled for approval last month. It was set out to help Tanzania’s education ministry improve access to secondary education.

Each year, Tanzanian schools expel thousands of girls who become pregnant, and some schools have imposed compulsory pregnancy tests.

A World Bank spokesperson said: “The World Bank supports policies that encourage girls’ education and make it possible for young girls to study in schools until they reach their full potential. The economic and social returns for girls finishing their education are very high in every society for both current and future generations.

“Working with our partners, the World Bank will continue to advocate girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzanian government.”

But according to media outlets such as CNN and The Guardian, World Bank sources said the policy of expelling pregnant girls was among the reasons for the loan withdrawal.

In addition, the World Bank has suspended missions to Tanzania because of “threats, harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community”.

On the same day as the World Bank announcement, the Danish minister for development corporation, Ulla Tørnæs, said on Twitter that Denmark, Tanzania’s second-biggest international donor, would also withhold $10m of aid funds over “unacceptable homophobic comments”.

She said: “I am very worried about the negative developments in Tanzania, the latest being completely unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner.”

The comments in question were made by an administrative chief in the country’s capital Dar es Salaam, who announced an anti-gay crackdown in the city, a Danish government spokesperson said.

According to the 2017 Human Rights Watch report, more than a million children are out of school in Tanzania because of discriminatory policies.

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