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UK AID CUTS: Three million people in need of humanitarian support this year now won’t get it

LONDON, April 23 – The UK is slashing aid to an estimated three million of the most desperate and vulnerable people on the planet – those affected by large-scale emergencies like conflicts, natural disasters, and disease outbreaks.

According to new analysis[i] by Save the Children, the UK Government will provide three million fewer people with humanitarian assistance this year than it did in 2019.

UK aid spending on humanitarian preparedness and response is estimated to be cut by 44 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. This follows the Government’s recent confirmation that support for Yemen and Syria, two of the world’s most deadly humanitarian crises, will be cut by two-thirds and a third respectively, when compared to spending last year.

Levels of humanitarian need have risen sharply because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change is making extreme weather events more frequent. Every other member of the G7, which Boris Johnson will host in Cornwall this summer, has responded by increasing aid spending. The UK is alone amongst its peers in choosing to reduce aid.

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said:

“This cut to humanitarian support means three million more people without food, shelter and healthcare in times of catastrophe such as natural disasters and conflict. It is a source of pride for millions of British people that when crisis strikes, the UK is always there to help those in need, wherever they may be. But these chaotic and incoherent cuts to aid mean that for millions of children and families facing unimaginable hardships, the UK is nowhere to be seen. This is the deadly price of the Government’s decision to abandon its commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid, and Ministers must urgently reconsider it.”



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[i] The UK spent £6.8 billion on humanitarian assistance from 2015-19 (Source: DFID Statistics on International Development 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019), reaching 32.6 million people (source: DFID Annual Report 2019), which works out at £210 per person reached. On this basis the £1.6 billion spend in this area in 2019-20 (Source: FCDO submission to IATI, March 2021) would have reached an estimated 7.3 million people and the £906 million 2021-22 budget for humanitarian preparedness and response (Source: FCDO Written Statement) would equate to reaching 4.3 million people - a difference of 3 million.