LONDON: The UK is cutting humanitarian aid to east Africa in a “betrayal” of tens of millions of people, charity officials have warned.
The Guardian reported on Wednesday that Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s international development minister, announced an aid package of £143 million ($176 million) for the region. The figure represents a reduction of £13 million compared to the amount allocated last year.
Mitchell’s announcement, which took place at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, comes as east Africa faces a series of growing humanitarian crises, including drought, conflict and inflation.
Katy Chakrabortty, head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, said: “The UK’s announcement that it will cut funding … is a betrayal of tens of millions of people in the region facing life-threatening food insecurity.
“As co-chair of the pledging conference, the UK is guilty of a gross dereliction of duties. In place of global leadership, we have furtive penny pinching.”
Some countries in east Africa are particularly affected by humanitarian crises. In Somalia, more than 1 million people have been forced to flee their homes this year, with data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Norwegian Refugee Council showing that the country reported record levels of displacement.
The Sudan conflict is a focus of UK aid, with Mitchell saying: “Our funding could not come at a more critical moment, and it is clear that we must act now and do all we can to save lives.”
Across east Africa, almost 72 million people will require humanitarian aid this year as a result of successive failed rainy seasons, conflict and a series of floods, the UN has warned.
Lis Wallace, UK policy and advocacy director at the One Campaign, said: “This wholly inadequate (UK) response exposes the human cost of the government’s decision to reduce its support to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said this year’s east Africa aid package includes £48 million for Somalia, £42 million for Ethiopia, £21.7 million for Sudan, and smaller amounts for South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.