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Tory ministers told cuts will kill - but pushed ahead with them anyway

This news post is 7 months old

Foreign aid cash slashed to balance the books - condemning thousands to death

Tory cuts to the foreign aid budget will condemn vulnerable people to death – according to the Westminster government’s own findings.

Ministers were presented with the evidence which they knew will kill thousands but proceeded to slash cash anyway – all to balance the books.

An internal report shows that swingeing cuts will have a disproportionate effect on women.

Tory ministers were warned that thousands of women in Africa will die in pregnancy and childbirth as a result of cuts and almost 200,000 more will also face unsafe abortions.

In Yemen, the report said that half a million women and children in Yemen will not receive healthcare and "fewer preventable deaths will be avoided".

"It may cause lasting damage to health systems in Yemen, if other donors are unable to fund," it said.

In Somalia, the Foreign Office will have to "delay this year, and potentially stop altogether" a programme to counter female genital mutilation.

And in war-torn South Sudan, cuts the humanitarian budget will mean "27,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition will go untreated, of which 12% (3,000) could die".

Meanwhile a 76% cut in aid for Afghanistan will leave some of the world's most vulnerable women and girls without critical services.

The devastating calculations are revealed in an assessment made by Foreign Office civil servants earlier this year, to inform ministers before they decided what to cut.

Andrew Mitchell, the development minister, gave it to the International Development Committee as part of his efforts to make UK aid spending more transparent.

The cuts happened after the Tory government made the decision to ‘temporarily’ reduce foreign aid from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%. This amounts to around £4 billion a year.

Labour's Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee, said the impact of the cuts was "absolutely horrific". However, it has been made clear that an in-coming Labour government will not immediately reverse Tory cuts.

Frances Guy, chief executive of Scotland’s International Development Alliance, said she welcomes more Foreign Office transparency as it “clarifies the real impact of aid cuts on the lives of the most vulnerable.”

She said: “The FCDO’s own words sum up the damning reality: “large ODA reductions… will have a disproportionate impact on those with protected characteristics, including women and girls, children, people with disabilities and older people”.  

“The report does not quantify the effect of cutting critical support to avoid malnutrition but we should be clear that any failure to reverse the effects of malnutrition condemns a child to stunted physical and mental growth forever.”

Gideon Rabinowitz, policy and advocacy director at Bond, the UK network for international NGOs, said: "It is firstly important to say that we welcome the report, which comes after years of the government resisting any sharing of these assessments.

“This report illustrates the devastating impact of continued cuts to the UK aid budget and the urgency of restoring spending so we can meet our international obligations. The most marginalised communities continue to bear the brunt of these politically driven cuts."

A spokesperson from the Foreign Office said UK aid spending would rise to £8.3bn next year, with a focus on dealing with humanitarian crises, protecting women and girls and supporting vulnerable people, "while delivering value for money for taxpayers".



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