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Reaction to UK announcement of cuts to foreign aid

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Today the UK Government confirmed the drastic extent of its aid cuts to global humanitarian operations, which have been a lifeline to millions of vulnerable people around the world. In the coming year, the UK will spend £906m to support to humanitarian preparedness and response. This represents a more than 40 per cent drop compared to the 2019. At the same time, a record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection throughout 2021, a near 40 per cent increase on 2020.

Quote attributable to Martin Hartberg, Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in the UK

“Today’s announcement confirms that titanic aid cuts will hit the world’s most vulnerable communities with deadly force, and comes at the worst possible time when we are facing record levels of global humanitarian needs.

The UK’s proud status as a global aid superpower is dealt another massive blow just as it prepares for the upcoming G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meeting. We call on the Government to rethink this calamitous decision, and not slam the door shut the world’s poorest people.”

Note to editors:

The UK Government said it will focus its work on those countries most affected by risk of famine, including Yemen, Syria, Somalia and South Sudan. While no funding cuts breakdown for specific countries has been released other than for Syria and Yemen, below is what we know so far in terms of their potential impact.

  • In Yemen, the Government has already announced that there will be nearly a 60 per cent drop in support. UK aid has helped pull the country back from the brink of famine, treated children for malnutrition and rolled back diseases like cholera. It has saved millions of lives. These cuts will strangle a lifeline countless Yemenis depend on.

  • In Syria, the UK has cut humanitarian funding to Syria by nearly a third compared to last year. These cuts will put lives on the line inside the country and for refugees in the region. It will reverse years of investments made by the UK in improving humanitarian conditions inside Syria.

  • In South Sudan, reported but not yet confirmed budget cuts of 59 per cent will have dire consequences as the threat of famine looms, with over 60 per cent of the population projected to face crisis or worse levels of hunger. The country also faces severe humanitarian needs made worse by flooding, displacement and insecurity.

  • In Somalia, the UK is currently the third largest provider of aid. Any reduction of aid funding will be disastrous as the country responds to a second Covid wave that appears deadlier than the first, and prepares for possible record displacement due to failing rains.

  • DR Congo was not specifically mentioned in the Government’s statement as a focus crisis, despite being home to the highest number of food insecure people on the planet. Funding cuts will hit communities already facing record levels of hunger hardest.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact media@nrc.no or call NRC’s media hotline on +47 905 623 29.