In response to the UK Government’s announcement that it would be merging the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive at HelpAge International said:
“Today’s announcement by the British Prime Minister could not have come at a worse time for older people in low and middle-income countries.
The examples used by the Prime Minister show a clear focus on strategic interests over poverty reduction.
This comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the very specific needs of older people and the importance of informed response from the international community to ensure that their health and rights are included and protected.
The Department for International Development strengthened the profile and credibility of the UK on the international stage. It had a global reputation for a principled approach to aid, championing the Sustainable Development Goals and a central pledge to ‘leave no one behind.
The new merged department must continue to show leadership in relation to disability and gender at all ages. Neutrality and independence will remain crucial for the UK to retain its role as a global leader in humanitarian response.
Going forward the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of British aid must not be compromised by an alternative political agenda, particularly at this pivotal moment in our history as the world starts to emerge from the COVID lockdown.
The merger should not be used to repurpose aid towards securing trade deals at the expense of the world’s poorest people.”