Foreign aid cuts will lead to an increase in civil war and inflame the conflict in the Middle East, the SNP has warned.
Dundee West MP Chris Law, the party’s international development spokesperson, said the Conservative government’s decision to cut billions of pounds from the overseas aid and development fund would result in an increase in mass hunger and famine too.
Charity Oxfam called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to listen to “opposition MPs” and his own backbenchers and party members — including predecessor Theresa May —
The UK Government said “tough decisions” had to be taken as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but £10 billion was to be spent this year, including £906m on humanitarian preparedness and response and £419m towards open societies and conflict resolution.
The UK Government has reduced aid spending to 0.5 per cent of national income instead of the 0.7 per cent pledged in the Conservative Party’s 2019 general election manifesto.
Mr Law said: “These drastic and unnecessary cuts could spark instability and unrest across the world, leading to civil war and mass hunger and famine. Boris Johnson must re-think this decision or the responsibility for further and avoidable death across the globe will lie squarely at his feet.
“At the very moment when global leadership is needed more than ever, this Tory government is walking away from millions still struggling from the Covid pandemic and a permanent poverty crisis, and betraying Afghans at the very moment they need support.
“It seems he has no shame when it comes to abandoning the UK government’s global responsibilities including its commitment to former warzones where UK forces have been deployed – there is an overriding moral imperative and national interest for the UK not to abandon such places.
“In stark contrast, the SNP Scottish Government has doubled its aid funding and stands ready and willing to play its part in tackling world hunger and peace-keeping.
“It is clearer than ever that Scotland is on a completely different trajectory to that of the UK, and it is time we had the full powers of independence to reach our full potential in bringing our progressive, humanitarian approach to the global stage.”
“Cuts put lives at risk” say Oxfam
A spokesperson for Oxfam said: “We know that cuts to the aid budget, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, will put lives at risk.
“UK aid supports the most vulnerable people in the world and slashing funding means that essentials like food, water and healthcare will no longer be provided for millions of people who are already struggling to get by.
“The Prime Minister should listen to voices from all political parties – including his own backbenchers – to keep Britain’s promise to the world’s poorest.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “The UK is a world leader on international development – we are the fifth largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the third largest bilateral humanitarian donor.
“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.
“We will still spend more than £10 billion this year including £906m on humanitarian preparedness and response and £419m towards open societies and conflict resolution.”