Equality and climate behind UK foreign aid cuts | World news

Details of cuts of more than 40% in the UK’s bilateral aid spending program were first presented by the Foreign Office, including massive cuts in humanitarian aid, equality girls and the climate.

This is the first time the government has explained how the aid ax is expected to drop in 2021 as ministers cut the aid package from 0.7% of UK gross national income to 0.5% , a decision now approved in a vote by MPs, but not by peers. , and likely to remain in effect for many years.

Ministers say Britain’s aid package will remain the third largest in the world, and the cuts have been imposed on the government by the scale of the blow to the economy from Covid.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office also said the overseas development assistance figures, revealed in an appendix to the ministry’s annual report and accounts released this week, are projections, and additional funds may be made available when needed. Aid to Afghanistan, for example, has been doubled in recent weeks due to the capture of the country by the Taliban and the resulting humanitarian catastrophe.

But former Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has often been accused of failing to explain the real implications of the cuts, focusing instead on priority areas of the government.

The cuts also show that East Africa, once considered a priority by the UK, has suffered badly, as have humanitarian disaster areas such as Yemen and Syria in the Middle East, and Pakistan.

The cuts to programs include Ethiopia, dropping from £ 240m in 2020-2021 to a budget of £ 107.5m in 2021-2022. Aid from Somalia was reduced from £ 121 million to £ 71.2 million, while aid from South Sudan fell from £ 135.4 million to £ 68.4 million. Tanzania is set to drop from £ 89.1million to £ 28.5million.

Overall, the level of aid in the East and Central Africa region is falling from £ 1.1bn to £ 545.9m.

Sarah Champion, chair of the international development committee – which reviews British aid, called the cuts in the East African region “outrageous and hypocritical”.

Aid in West Africa rises from £ 708.9million to £ 345.2million, aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo dropping from £ 121million to £ 56million and in Nigeria from £ 209 million to £ 95 million. The Joint Sahel Department will face a reduction from £ 61.4million to £ 23.8million.

Aid cuts to Pakistan and Bangladesh mean the level of UK spending in India and the Indian Ocean region drops from £ 358.6million to £ 201.6million. British aid to Bangladesh drops from £ 189.8million to £ 72.6million, while in Pakistan aid drops from £ 159million to £ 97.6million.

Budget cuts in the Indo-Pacific, the UK’s new priority area, are minimal, although Myanmar faces a reduction in aid from £ 91.9million to £ 49.5million sterling.

A former priority area for the UK, aid to parts of the Middle East has been cut. Aid to Lebanon drops from £ 84.9million to £ 13.1million, Syria from £ 153.5million to £ 48million while Yemen faces a drop of 220 , £ 5million to £ 82.4million. The Occupied Palestinian Territories see a reduction from £ 79.9million to £ 26.9million.

In terms of cuts by theme, the accounts suggest that overall humanitarian aid will be reduced from £ 546million to £ 278million; education, gender and equality budgets face cut from £ 308.8million to £ 124.3million and, despite Covid, healthcare is cut by £ 1.158bn sterling to £ 915 million. The climate is reduced from £ 330million to £ 214million. There is a small increase in aid to the World Health Organization, but cuts to the Asian Development Bank.

The total level of the aid budget in 2020 was £ 14.4 billion, of which £ 9 billion was classified as bilateral aid.

The report reveals that the Foreign Office has cut its aid spending on China by 95% to £ 0.9million, targeted on specific programs that promote Britain’s values ​​of public companies and human rights. man. No money goes directly to the government. A significant portion of the 2020-2021 program spending in China was on old cross-cutting programs of the Whitehall Prosperity Fund, which were reflected in the Prosperity Fund section of the appendix.

The accounts also reveal that the Foreign Ministry has assets valued at £ 12.5 million still tied up in Afghanistan to which it does not have access.

The cuts do not take into account cuts implemented in 2019 due to a shrinking economy, but the magnitude of those cuts appear to have been smaller than expected at one point.

The Treasury has decided that the 0.7% target will not be restored until the debt goes down and there is no deficit in daily spending. This assessment will be carried out by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

About Natalee Broderick

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