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UK ‘plans to cut aid to war-torn countries’

Mike Bedigan, PA
·2-min read

The UK plans to cut aid to some of the world’s most conflict-ridden countries by up to two thirds, according to a leaked document.

Aid to Syria would be cut by 67%, aid to Libya by 63%, Somalia by 60% and South Sudan by 59%, according to the Foreign Office report obtained by the openDemocracy website.

Labour said the reported cuts would “cause devastation” to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Preet Kaur Gill, shadow secretary for international development, said: “This is a devastating reminder of the real world impact the Government’s politically motivated decision to abandon its manifesto commitment on aid will have on the world’s most vulnerable people.

“Cuts in support to countries in the midst of multiple humanitarian crises would cause devastation; leading to some of the world’s most vulnerable people to starve, stretched healthcare systems to collapse and access to clean water stripped away.

“Make no mistake, people will die.

“Callous cuts like this signal a retreat from the world stage and will make us all less safe. This is not Global Britain.”

A Government spokesperson said further decisions on individual aid programmes were still to be made.

“The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid,” the spokesperson said.

“We remain a world-leading aid donor and we will spend more than £10 billion this year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health.”

The economic damage done by the pandemic has led the Government to shelve its manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, cutting that to 0.5%.

The documents obtained by openDemocracy suggest the total bilateral humanitarian aid programme will be cut from £1.5 billion to £900 million, The Times reported.

The leak comes as more than a hundred UK charities condemned the Government’s decision to cut aid to Yemen.

The UK has pledged at least £87 million in aid, down from a promise of £160 million in 2020 and £200 million in 2019.