The government’s announcement that it will be scrapping DfID could not have come at a worse time for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. We’re in the middle of the biggest humanitarian crisis in a generation, a truly global threat that is likely to reverse decades of gains for the world’s poorest. Today’s decision will not only jeapordise the international Covid-19 response, putting millions in immediate danger, it also severely diminishes the UK’s capacity to deliver quality aid to those who need it most.
An independent DfID with complete oversight of the UK’s aid budget is the best way to ensure that UK aid reaches the world’s most vulnerable people and remains focused on poverty alleviation. By merging DfID into the Foreign Office, the government has chosen to put economic and wider foreign policy considerations above the needs of the world’s poorest. This could cost lives. By handing the aid budget over to those with little expertise in development and humanitarian response, our aid spend will not only be less effective, but also less transparent and less accountable.
Our country has been a world leader in championing aid – we’ve always been proud of the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on foreign aid, and we welcome this government’s continued commitment to that important target. But as we face an unprecedented global pandemic, with potentially devastating impacts for the world’s poor, it is more important than ever that UK aid is focused on helping those who need it most, not diverted away from them to serve our foreign policy interests.
We urge the government to work with Islamic Relief and other aid agencies to ensure UK aid continues to prioritise the most vulnerable people. This is not the time to play politics with the world’s poor.