Mali crisis shows value of foreign aid, says ­Scotland Office minister David Mundell

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CRITICS of international aid should look at the problems in Mali, which is under threat of being taken over by force by a terrorist-backed regime, Mundell has warned ahead of flying out to Malawi.

Mr Mundell has flown to Malawi, where he will help start the celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Scottish explorer and anti-slavery campaigner David Livingstone.

But ahead of a visit which will include a meeting with the country’s new president, Joyce Banda, Mr Mundell emphasised the importance of aid against a background of criticism, particularly from Conservative backbenchers, over Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to protecting the aid budget and increasing its share to 0.7 per cent of GDP.

But he pointed to other African states, notably Mali and Algeria, which were descending into chaos, as reasons why aid was needed.

“It’s not just the right thing to do, but it is in our national interest,” he said. “We can see what happens when countries become unstable.

“I have seen what aid has achieved and, in the long haul, with incremental changes, there is hope for the continent.”