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Ditching international development minister gives wrong message at wrong time


Role has been in place for 20 successful years say aid groups

Aid charities have aired disappointment at news there will no longer be a dedicated minister for international development in the Scottish Government.

The role which had existed since 2012 has according Oxfam Scotland and the Scottish International Aid Fund (SCIAF) made a big impact and unique contribution to international development, supporting millions of lives in some of the poorest communities in the world.

It comes at a time when the UK government has rolled back in its commitments to international aid while the Scottish commitment has continued to enjoy cross party support in Holyrood.

The minister for Europe and international development is a junior ministerial post and a result, the minister does not attend the Scottish Cabinet.

The role supports the cabinet secretary for the constitution, Europe and external affairs, who is a full member of the cabinet. It was modified in February 2020 with migration moving to another post.

Current minister Kaukab Stewart took the post in February 2024.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said the world was living in "dangerous, fractious times with bloody conflicts raging, millions of people on the brink of starvation and a planet which is ablaze."

He added: "Humanitarian demands have skyrocketed while human rights face constant attack. At a time when global solidarity has never been more needed, the first minister’s decision to axe the dedicated ministerial position for International Development is deeply concerning.

"The first minister must now show there is no weakening of Scotland’s long-standing commitment to being a good global citizen, including by delivering the SNP’s manifesto promise to boost Scotland’s small, but valuable funding to the communities who need it most.” 

Lorraine Currie, SCIAF CEO, echoed the sentiment, saying aid suppor for international development has never been more important given the scale of humanitarian emergencies the world faces - from the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza to the devastating famine across East Africa - to championing the need for long-term investment in helping people build livelihoods, protect their health and build a future through education .

She added: “The first minister should make sure that Scotland’s highly important contribution to international development, humanitarian relief and climate justice continues under his leadership.

“Every country has a part to play in helping the poorest and building a better world, and we hope his government will continue Scotland’s proud legacy of reaching out in solidarity across the world.

“We look forward to working with Angus Robertson as secretary for external affairs and the first minister directly on these issues.“



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