Despite assurances that country plans would immediately follow the latest announcement, we’re still waiting to hear exactly where the axe will fall and who will lose out on the support they so desperately need.
The Foreign Secretary asserted ‘no one is going hungry because we’re not signing cheques’. This is simply not true.
Right now in the DRC 27 million people are going hungry, and 22 days into the new financial year our teams are still waiting for assurances on their funding. Health centres will close. Lives will be lost.
In Burkina Faso 2.9 million people are going hungry. In Nigeria 5.1 million people are food insecure, a 34% increase on 2019. Both countries have been identified as being most at risk of slipping into famine and yet, the government says it will pivot its aid towards East Africa. While the UK is leading action on famine prevention at the G7 this year, it now appears to be threatening aid cuts to the fragile West African region. This is frightening, contradictory and ultimately undermines the UK’s diplomatic efforts.
An additional 168,000 children are expected to die from malnutrition by 2022 yet there is still no clarity on what little aid will be left for nutrition. The UK’s famine response will be damaged if it does not exist alongside nutrition programmes that improve long-term health. UK aid for nutrition has not been mentioned at all by the Foreign Secretary and is completely missing from his remarks on global health.
At a time when global hunger rates are surging, the UK is simply too big to fail. It is too important, too influential, and responsible for too large a percentage of the humanitarian and global health response.
The ongoing opaque nature of these cuts devastate the UK’s reputation and contrary to the Foreign Secretary’s assertion, mean children and their families will go hungry.