UK ‘plans to cut aid to war-torn countries’, leaked document reveals

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

The UK plans to cut aid to countries in conflict zones by up to two-thirds, according to a leaked document.

Aid to Syria would be cut by 67% (from £137 million pledged last year to just over £45 million this year), while aid to South Sudan by 59% (from £110 million to just £45 million), according to the Foreign Office report obtained by the openDemocracy website.It also reported that aid to Libya would be slashed by 63%, Somalia by 60%, and the Democratic Republic of Congo by roughly 60%.

Labour said the reported cuts would “cause devastation” to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Preet Kaur Gill, shadow secretary for international development, said: “This is a devastating reminder of the real world impact the government’s politically motivated decision to abandon its manifesto commitment on aid will have on the world’s most vulnerable people.

“Cuts in support to countries in the midst of multiple humanitarian crises would cause devastation; leading to some of the world’s most vulnerable people to starve, stretched healthcare systems to collapse and access to clean water stripped away.

“Make no mistake, people will die."

Children at a camp for displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Aid to DRC could be cut by 60%. Credit: AP

A government spokesperson said further decisions on individual aid programmes were still to be made.

“The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid,” the spokesperson said.

The war in Yemen has displaced four million people. Credit: AP

“We remain a world-leading aid donor and we will spend more than £10 billion this year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health.”

Following the coronavirus outbreak, the government shelved its manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, cutting that to 0.5%.

The documents obtained by openDemocracy suggest the total bilateral humanitarian aid programme will be cut from £1.5 billion to £900 million, The Times reported.

The leak comes as more than a hundred UK charities condemned the government’s decision to cut aid to Yemen.

The UK has pledged at least £87 million in aid, down from a promise of £160 million in 2020 and £200 million in 2019.