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11 Leading NGOs call on UK government to rethink aid budget cuts to Syria that “puts lives at risk”

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Four months ago, the Middle East Minister James Cleverly told Parliament “Many countries have turned their backs on the Syrian people; the United Kingdom is not one of them and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their time of need.” However, if the recent reports of a 67% cut to the FCDO’s Syrian aid budget are accurate, then the impact on the Syrian people will be devastating. We strongly urge the government to stand true to its promise.

This week marks 10 years since the start of the Syrian conflict, and the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people are greater than ever before. Over 80% of Syrians live in poverty, 12.4 million are suffering from food insecurity and 12.2 million lack regular access to clean water.

The UK is the third largest aid donor to Syria. Any decision to drastically cut support for Syrians puts lives at risk, including those of the 210,000 Syrians who rely on UK aid for food every month, as well as the 100,000 Syrian refugees in the region who depend on UK aid for clean water and sanitation. Cutting aid would also undermine British political influence and reduce support to local civil society working to address the root causes of the crisis.

Minister Cleverly said the UK would stand with Syrians “in their time of need.” Their time of need is now.

SIGNED

Jean Michel Grand, Executive Director, Action Against Hunger UK

Howard Mollett, Head of Humanitarian Policy, CAFOD

Katherine Nightingale, Head of Advocacy and Policy, Care International UK

Patrick Watt, Director of Policy, Public Affairs & Campaigns, Christian Aid

Zia Salik, Interim UK Director, Islamic Relief

Selena Victor, Senior Director, Policy & Advocacy, Mercy Corps

John Plastow, Chief Impact Officer, Oxfam GB

Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children UK Charles Lawley, Head of Communications & Advocacy, Syria Relief

Farouq Habib, Deputy General Manager for External Affairs, The White Helmets

David Westwood, Director of Policy & Programmes, World Vision UK

References

James Cleverly quote https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-11-03/debates/915133EC-13D7-4C1A-9543-D1741BEF8435/SyriaHumanitarianSituation?fbclid=IwAR1rqSyAN2HDLebgKijBNaHlRH5RrznfwWqHQxf31JBnPQzX0FoAC6Zfqgk

67% aid cut to Syria https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/secret-plan-to-cut-spending-on-war-zone-aid-by-two-thirds-nplclcsqb

80% of Syrians live in poverty https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syria-economic-crisis-compounds-conflict-misery-millions-face-deeper

12.4 million Syrians food insecure https://www.wfp.org/news/twelve-million-syrians-now-grip-hunger-worn-down-conflict-and-soaring-food-prices

12.2 million lack access to water https://www.wfp.org/news/twelve-million-syrians-now-grip-hunger-worn-down-conflict-and-soaring-food-prices

All figures on UK aid to Syria: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/syria-the-latest-updates-on-uk-aid#:~:text=In%20Syria%2C%20UK%20aid%20has,people%20affected%20by%20the%20violence