Following last week’s announcement by the Prime Minster of plans to merge DFID with the Foreign Commonwealth Office, nearly 200 UK aid and development leaders have called for the government to the its decision, stating that the move risks jeopardising the UK’s global Covid-19 response and the UK turning its back on the world’s poorest people.
The government said last week that work would begin immediately on the merger, which would see a new department – the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – established in early September and led by the Foreign Secretary.
Despite government claims, the UK humanitarian and development sector says it was not consulted about the plans.
Stephanie Draper, Bond CEO said,
“This week’s news marks the beginning of the UK turning its back on the world’s poorest people. Humanitarian and development professionals now fear UK aid will increasingly be diverted away from helping people, and instead used for trade deals or our political agenda. This would be a disaster for the UK’s credibility as a world leader in development and aid, especially at a time when Covid-19 requires a global response, without which it remains a threat to us all.
“Many of the NGOs who have signed this letter do not receive a single penny of government funding – yet anyone working to tackle diseases, or get girls into education, or provide water and sanitation to people living in conflict understands that having a government department with the expertise to help build a healthier, safer and more sustainable world is of critical importance to us all. The government must immediately reverse this decision.”
Signed by organisations including Save the Children, Unicef UK, Christian Aid, CARE International UK, World Vision UK, World Jewish Relief, Islamic Relief UK, Tearfund, VSO, TackleAfrica and Mothers Union, the letter states that:
“Abolishing one of the world’s most effective and respected government departments at a time when the world is in need of global leadership, undermines our response to Covid-19 and suggests the UK is turning its back on the world’s poorest people. It also risks us being less able to respond to the great challenges of our time, such as global health security and climate change…
…This decision, taken during a global pandemic with no consultation, ahead of the review of development, diplomacy and defence and against the recent advice of the cross-party International Development Select Committee, does not enhance our reputation in the world but diminishes it.
We urge you to reconsider this merger.”
Last week, the International Development Select Committee report for its inquiry, Effectiveness of UK Aid stated:
“Our evidence is clear that UK aid has made major contributions to global development goals. DFID has a high international standing, built up over many years, for its excellence in managing and delivering development assistance, and its transparency and effectiveness. Any reforms to current government systems and structures would potentially impact the fundamentals of what UK aid is spent on, who spends it most effectively, and ultimately undermine our reputation and influence overseas as a ‘development superpower.”
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