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4 June 2021

Where the UK’s foreign aid cuts have fallen hardest

British aid to those struggling in Syria and Yemen is set to be cut by 49 per cent and 56 per cent respectively. 

By Ben Walker

Assistance to those facing some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises is threatened by the UK’s plan to cut foreign aid from 0.7 per cent of annual national income to 0.5 per cent (a £4bn reduction).

A back-bench rebellion led by the former Conservative international development secretary Andrew Mitchell and supported by others including Theresa May, David Davis and Jeremy Hunt threatens to defeat Boris Johnson’s government in the House of Commons on Monday (7 June). But if the rebellion fails, where will the cuts hit hardest?

The retreat of Global Britain
Select foreign aid cuts by the UK by country and institution 
Source: Various

Though not all the cuts are yet known, those that have been announced are stark. The UK government plans to cut funding to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which previously stood at £100m, by 95 per cent, with experts warning this risks undermining efforts to eradicate the disease. 

British aid to Yemen and Syria, ranked by the Concern humanitarian community as two of the worst crises in the world, is to be slashed by 56 per cent and 49 per cent respectively. 

Mitchell has warned the cuts will lead to an unnecessary loss of life. “The cuts are having a devastating impact on the ground... We urge the government to think again... and uphold Britain’s promise to the rest of the world.”

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