LONDON: Over 100 charities have written to the UK government criticizing its decision to cut aid to Yemen.
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the charities say the decision to reduce vital funds to the war-torn country is a “misjudgement” that will “destroy the UK’s global reputation as a country that steps up to help those most in need.”
Earlier this week, it emerged that the government proposed to reduce the UK’s aid budget to Yemen, currently in the grip of famine and war, to £87 million ($120.4 million) this year, down from £164 million in 2019-2020.
The British government is thought to believe that the public will support the move as part of cost-cutting measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the letter — signed by Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children and Care International, among others — suggested that such a view would change rapidly once the true scale of the damage done by reducing aid became apparent.
“History will not judge this nation kindly if the government chooses to step away from the people in Yemen,” it added.
Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam GB, told the BBC: “Aid cuts are a false economy that will remove a vital lifeline from millions of people in Yemen and beyond, who can’t feed their families, have lost their homes, and whose lives are threatened by conflict and COVID-19.”
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, told The Times: “We are looking at the near collapse of UK help for children trapped in the world’s worst war zones, just as a second wave of the pandemic bears down on many of them.” The UK’s decision, he said, will have “devastating real-life consequences.”
British MPs have criticized the plan to cut aid to Yemen, which has suffered from a decade-long conflict leaving more than 20 million people reliant on foreign aid.
Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell described the decision as “unconscionable,” with Labour MP Lisa Nandy saying the UK is “abandoning our moral obligations.”
A government spokesman said: “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.”
He added: “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.”