MADRID, Dec 17, 2012 (AFP) - Spain's crisis budget cuts have stopped it being one of the world's top providers of aid to disaster victims in poor countries, humanitarian groups said Monday.
Major aid charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Spanish humanitarian institution IECAH said in a report that the state's foreign aid contributions had plunged since 2010.
Spain committed 465 million euros ($612 million) to humanitarian aid in 2009 whereas in the budget for 2013 it has set aside less than 20 million, they said in a report.
"In Spain we are seeing an absolute collapse that puts our humanitarian action practically on the verge of disappearance," MSF's director for Spain Joan Trubau told a news conference.
"This means a loss of commitment and a loss of leadership by Spain in international development, particularly in humanitarian aid."
While MSF runs mostly on private donations, IECAH researcher Francisco Rey, one of the authors of the report, said that many of Spain's aid agencies rely on state funds.
He told AFP that Spain previously was among the top 10 donor countries of humanitarian and development aid but ceased to be in 2011 and has undergone a further "enormous drop" in 2012.
This threatens to choke off emergency aid to victims of famine in countries such as Somalia as well as war refugees and people with HIV/AIDS, the groups said.
Cutbacks began under Spain's previous Socialist government and the conservatives who took over a year ago have made further sweeping spending cuts to try to stabilise the public finances.
This has sharpened the effects of a protracted recession in a country where one in four workers is unemployed and domestic aid groups say millions of people are falling into poverty.
"We are perfectly aware of what is happening in Spain and we do not at all mean to compare the suffering of one group of people with the suffering of others," said Trubau.
"What we are saying is that the crisis must not be an excuse to let our guard down."