Redd Barna wants to use war oil money
Save the Children
Redd Barna, Save the Children Norway, is opposed to parts of the budget for aid to developing countries being spent on refugee work in Norway and believes that increased oil revenues as a result of the Ukraine war should be used instead.
“The refugee response in Norway should be financed by the increased oil revenues as a result of the war in Ukraine,” said Birgitte Lange, Secretary-General of Redd Barna in a press release.
The backdrop for the discussion is the government’s package for Norway’s management of the Ukraine war crisis, in which NOK 10.7 billion has been set aside for measures to deal with Ukrainian war refugees in Norway. A total of NOK 250 million has been obtained from the budget for developmental aid without proposals for alternate coverage to compensate for the cuts.
Several have been critical of the budget reallocations, and in a letter to the government, 42 Norwegian development and humanitarian organizations have asked that the cuts in aid not be made.
Use the oil money
“This is contrary to the entire principle of Norwegian development assistance, which is that it should go toward reducing poverty in other countries. Instead, Norway will be the largest recipient of Norwegian aid this year,” said Lange.
Redd Barna maintains that the money should go to the countries where people are living in poverty and risk death from starvation. The organization highlighted several countries in crisis.
One country is Lebanon, which imports 80% of its wheat from Ukraine. It is now estimated that their wheat reserves will last for only another month. And in Afghanistan, thousands of parents have had to sell their children to get enough money for food.
Lange therefore argues that increased income from Norway’s oil and gas industry as a result of the Ukraine war should be slated to cover the costs of supporting Ukrainian refugees in Norway.
Because of Western countries’ sanctions against Russia, which is a major exporter of gas to Europe, oil prices have risen sharply. It has had a major impact on the Norwegian economy, which is lubricated by the oil and gas industry, and it is estimated that revenues from the industry may increase by about NOK 500 billion in 2022.
Distancing from oil and gas companies
At the same time as Save the Children calls for the increased use of oil money in Norway’s developmental aid efforts, they have distanced themselves from the companies that produce oil and gas. In March, the organization declined a donation of 750,000 British pounds, equivalent to NOK 8.6 million or $976,626, from the oil and gas company Neptune Energy.
The reason was that Save the Children has decided to stop accepting donations from companies involved in business related to fossil-fuel energy, a spokesperson from the organization told the British newspaper The Telegraph.
“We are using the funds needed to implement our response to the crisis in Ukraine and in neighboring countries, regardless of whether the funds come from oil and gas companies. The climate crisis will be the biggest threat to the world’s children in the years to come, so it is important that we think long term and equip our organization for the future as well,” said Gunvor Knag Fylkesnes, communications director for Redd Barna.
Oil state and oil company not the same
Redd Barna has underlined the difference between using the state’s “oil money” to finance the refugee response in Norway and donations from oil companies that go directly to their own work.
“This is not about whether Redd Barna will take money from the increased oil revenues but how Norway will finance the refugee response in Norway,” said Fylkesnes.
Neptune Energy said that the money went to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Rescue Committee instead.
Tvinnerheim: A lot of uncertainty
“Any additional appropriations or reallocations in the developmental aid budget will be evaluated by the Storting,” said Tvinnereim (Center Party) to NTB.
She emphasized that it is still unclear how many Ukrainians will come to Norway, how long they will stay, and how great the humanitarian needs in Ukraine will be.
“We are confident that we will be able to find a solution for the measures we believe are important and right to meet other crises in developing countries,” said Tvinnereim.
Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall
This article originally appeared in the May 6, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.