Before Tanzania could deal with the pain of being stripped of a $300m World Bank loan following its policy of banning pregnant girls from school, another major donor has decided to cut back on aid to the country.
Denmark, Tanzania’s second-biggest donor has announced that it would hold back $10 million worth of aid money over concerns of human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments” made by a government official, Reuters News Agency reports.
“Very concerned about the negative developments in Tanzania. Most recently unacceptable homophobic statements by a Commissioner. I have therefore decided to withhold 65 million for the country. Respect for human rights absolutely essential for DK, the Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tornaes said on Twitter Wednesday.
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Meget bekymret over den negative udvikling i Tanzania. Senest helt uacceptable homofobiske udtalelser fra en kommissær. Jeg har derfor besluttet at tilbageholde 65 mio kr til landet. Respekt for menneskerettigheder helt afgørende for DK #dkpol #dkaid https://t.co/Ih9hFqDUua
— Ulla Tørnæs (@Ulla_Tornaes) November 14, 2018
This means that Denmark, which provided 349 million crowns in foreign aid last year will now withhold 65 million Danish crowns ($9.88 million) in aid to Tanzania.
The said “homophobic comments” were made by an administrative chief of the capital, Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, who earlier this month announced a surveillance squad that will track down gay people, a spokeswoman for the Danish minister told Reuters.
Denmark withholding aid to Tanzania comes on the same day that the World Bank held back its $300 million educational loan that was to help the East African country in improving the status of education in secondary schools.
According to the CNN, the loan, which was to be approved late last month, was withdrawn over concerns of discontinuation of education once a girl gets pregnant in the country.
In June 2017, President John Magufuli upheld a controversial 2002 law that bans pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school after giving birth. He also added that men who impregnate schoolgirls should be imprisoned for 30 years.
There has not been an official record of how many girls have been expelled from schools or barred from returning to school once they have had their babies. Reports, however, indicate that various regions in the country have been arresting pregnant girls and forcing them to reveal the men responsible as a measure of ending teenage pregnancies.
The World Bank said it will continue to advocate for the education of girls in its dialogue with Tanzania.
“The economic and social returns to girls finishing their education are very high in every society for both current and future generations. Working with other partners, the World Bank will continue to advocate for girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzanian government,” the World Bank said in an official statement emailed to CNN.
The withdrawal of the funds comes days after the Canadian government raised concerns over the treatment of the LGBTQ community in the country, casting a shadow on its foreign aid to the nation.
Hundreds of people have gone into hiding after Dar es Salaam’s administration chief Paul Makonda announced that there would be a crackdown on homosexuals in the country. Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania and although the government had distanced itself from this pronouncement, a number of people suspected to the homosexuals have been arrested.
These are just some of the human rights violations that have caused concerns the world over. Others include the banning of family planning advertisement which violates women’s right to access information on reproductive health; banning music and arresting prominent musicians and journalists; and making illegal for people to question government statistics, among others.
The withdrawal of the World Bank loan on education will set back the progress for secondary schools, which records low enrolment over lack of school-related expenses despite the waiver of tuition fees.