Britain’s proposed cuts to foreign aid on healthcare, conflict prevention and the climate crisis could cost lives, more than 200 NGOs warned in Open letter to the foreign secretary.
A Review of governmentLiz Truss has ordered the international development strategy. However, the restructuring of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Offices (FCDO) has raised concerns about the abandonment of development.
“It would be shortsighted to drop critical issues like global health, climate change and conflict prevention from the forthcoming international development strategy. It would also cost lives,” said the letter.
“This move will undermine the UK’s ability to play our part globally in tackling urgent challenges, increasing security, and eradicating poverty. Supporting countries in times of crisis is critically important, but so too is investing in the development assistance that prevents these crises.”
The letter said that funding should not be diverted to Ukraine in response to the crisis. The war highlighted the importance of a development strategy that is “poverty-focused, evidence and rights-based, and accountable to the British public and communities it is meant to serve”.
On Tuesday, Telegraph reported that although the review was due to be published next week, it was delayed to April mid-April by Truss’s order that it be redrawn to better focus on her interests.
The controversial restructuring of the department follows less than two years since the merger of DfID (Department for International Development) and the Foreign Office in 2020. Dominic Raab, then foreign secretary, said that aid would be provided. “the beating heart”International policy.
The aid news website was last week Devex reported the FCDO director GeneralMoazzam Mlik, an African specialist, had resigned in the midst of restructuring.
Stephanie Draper, the CEO of Bond, the network for British NGOs, said Malik’s resignation was a blow to the FCDO.
“The FCDO urgently needs a dedicated international development minister in the cabinet to drive the UK’s development priorities. The FCDO needs real senior level expertise to help prevent future crises, rather than constantly trying to deal with the aftermath,” said Draper.
This week, parliament’s international development committee was told by NGOs that the government’s aid cuts during the pandemic had hit women and girls worst.
“It’s very clear there’s been a lack of transparency, a lack of accountability and we still don’t know where those cuts have landed,” said the committee’s chair, Sarah Champion, at the end of the session.
“I really hope the rumours of pulling out of conflict funding, pulling out of climate adaptation funding, and pulling out of much of the healthcare funding are just that – rumours – because it will be devastating if true.”
The FCDO did not respond to specific criticisms but said development remains a “core priority”.
“We will publish a new international development strategy this spring. This will set out how we deliver our climate change and health commitments, as well as restoring funding for women and girls and humanitarian work this year,” a spokesperson said.