Wednesday, December 8

Equality and climate feel the force of UK foreign aid cuts | World News


The Foreign Office has for the first time laid out details of cuts of more than 40% in the UK’s bilateral aid spending program, including huge cuts in humanitarian aid, girls’ equality and the climate.

It is the first time the government has described how the aid ax is projected to fall in 2021, as ministers cut the aid program from 0.7% of UK gross national income to 0.5%, a decision now. backed in a vote by MPs, but not by their peers. , and will likely remain in effect for many years.

Ministers say the UK’s aid program will remain the world’s third-largest, and the cuts were imposed on the government because of the magnitude of the impact to the economy caused by Covid.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office also says figures on overseas development assistance, disclosed in an annex to the department’s annual report and accounts released this week, are projections, and additional funding can be provided if the need arises. Aid to Afghanistan, for example, has doubled in recent weeks due to the capture of the country by the Taliban and the resulting humanitarian disaster.

But former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was frequently accused of failing to explain the real implications of the cuts and instead focused on continuing the government’s priority areas.

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

The program cuts include Ethiopia, from 240 million pounds in 2020-21 to a budget of 107.5 million pounds in 2021-22. Aid from Somalia has been slashed from £ 121 million to £ 71.2 million, while aid from South Sudan falls from £ 135.4 million to £ 68.4 million. Tanzania is forecast to fall from £ 89.1 million to £ 28.5 million.

Overall, the level of aid in the Central and East Africa region is declining from £ 1.1 billion to £ 545.9 million.

Sarah Champion, chair of the international development committee, which examines UK aid, called the cuts in the East Africa region “outrageous and hypocritical.”

In West Africa, aid is being reduced from £ 708.9 million to £ 345.2 million, while aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is reduced from £ 121 million to £ 56 million and to Nigeria from £ 209 million to £ 95 million. The whole department of the Sahel will face a cut from £ 61.4 million to £ 23.8 million.

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

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

A former priority area for the UK, aid to parts of the Middle East has been drastically reduced. Aid to Lebanon falls from £ 84.9 million to £ 13.1 million, Syria from £ 153.5 million to £ 48 million, while Yemen faces a drop from £ 220.5 million to £ 82.4 million. The occupied Palestinian territories see a cut from £ 79.9 million to £ 26.9 million.

In terms of cuts by issue, the accounts suggest that total humanitarian aid will drop from £ 546 million to £ 278 million; Education, gender and equality budgets face a cut from £ 308.8 million to £ 124.3 million and, despite Covid, health suffers a reduction from £ 1,158 million to £ 915 million. The weather drops from £ 330 million to £ 214 million. 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 to China by 95% to £ 0.9 million, earmarked for specific programs promoting British values ​​of open societies and human rights. Money is not given directly to the government. A significant proportion of the 2020-21 program spending in China went to previous Whitehall Prosperity Fund programs, which have been reflected in the Prosperity Fund section of the annex.

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

The cuts do not take into account the cuts applied in 2019 due to a contraction in the size of the economy, but the scale of those cuts appears to have been less than what had been projected at some point.

The Treasury has ruled that the 0.7% target will not be restored until debt falls and there is no deficit in daily spending. This evaluation will be carried out by the Office of Budgetary Responsibility.


www.theguardian.com

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