Reuters International

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine government has told the European Union it will no longer accept development aid from the bloc, putting at risk programmes to assist poor and conflict-hit regions in the country's south, Europe's ambassador said on Wednesday.

Ambassador Franz Jessen said the decision to cut aid from the EU, a strong critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's drugs war, would mean the loss of about 250 million Euros ($278.73 million) worth of grants mostly allocated to Muslim communities.

Manila's move comes days after Duterte won billions of dollars in pledges from China after attending the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.

"The Philippine government has informed us they no longer accept new EU grants," Jessen said without elaborating.

The EU will issue a statement on Thursday, officially announcing the end of its funding agreement with the Philippines.

There was no immediate response from the Philippines' foreign ministry.

Duterte says European nations don't understand the extent of the narcotics problem in the Philippines.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate operations.

The EU has been providing support to Manila's efforts to end nearly 50 years of Muslim rebellion in a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, displaced 1 million and stunted growth in one of the country's resource-rich regions.

It granted the Philippines 130 million euros in development assistance between 2007-2013. In 2015, it pledged 325 million euros over four years to finance projects in Muslim Mindanao after Manila signed a peace deal with rebels in March 2014.

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing By Richard Lough)

Reuters

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