"Tragic blow" to most vulnerable
The UK NGO sector has condemned the UK government's long awaited breakdown of aid cuts and has urged the government to reverse its decision.
In a statement, 200 organisations supported by millions of people across the country, including the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), Save the Children and Oxfam, said the announcement is a tragic blow for many of the world’s most marginalised people the UK once supported, and for the UK's reputation as a trusted development partner.
The aid organisations say the government has not even spared countries ravaged by humanitarian crisis, disease, war and poverty. “When other nations are stepping forward and bolstering their aid budgets, the UK has instead chosen to step back,” the statement reads.
SCIAF director, Alistair Dutton said: “Cutting aid in the middle of a pandemic is catastrophic. It will be devastating for millions of people living in extreme poverty at a time when they need a hand up to build a future. It also sends mixed messages and undermines Britain’s global leadership as we urge all nations to come together for the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow to tackle climate change once and for all.”
Kevin Watkins, Save the Children CEO, said that when every other G7 nation is stepping up in the face of a global pandemic and increasing their support for the poorest and most vulnerable people, the UK is alone in choosing to step back, even as it prepares to host the G7 Summit.
He added: “The huge cuts to Yemen - the world's biggest humanitarian crisis - and the admission they were made without an assessment of their potential impact, point to a government making cuts with no consideration for the human harm they will cause.
"These cuts will trim UK borrowing by a fraction, but devastate lives across many of the world’s poorest countries. At a time when the UK should be leading the international community in responding to the climate crisis ahead of the climate summit, it is slashing aid to communities on the front line of that crisis. The UK’s hard-won reputation for international leadership in aid is in tatters.”
And Romilly Greenhill, UK director of anti-poverty organisation the One Campaign, said the UK government’s words are not matched by actions.
“The cuts reveal a government which makes bold declarations about the importance of investing in girls' education and preventing future health crises, but takes a scythe to the very projects needed to deliver on these ambitions - all in the midst of a pandemic and the same year we’re due to host major summits on these issues.
“The promised new era of British leadership is going to be very hard to deliver whilst we’re turning our back on the world's most difficult challenges.”