In response to a cut to the UK’s commitments on foreign aid, Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive at HelpAge International highlighted the devastating impact this decision could have on the most marginalised in societies in low- and middle- income countries.
“This move is an own goal by the UK government jeopardising its role as a global leader on international aid. This is not the right time to withdraw from that position of strength as a champion of the 0.7% GNI aid target.
“It is a retrograde step which undermines previous development gains and the impact of British Aid at a time when the UK’s role in the world is gradually diminishing.
“The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of international aid more than ever. COVID-19 does not respect national boundaries and if leading economies turn their back on the poorest and most in need, the shock waves will be felt all over the world.
“Some of the most marginalised in societies, like older people, have suffered the worst impacts of COVID-19. A reduction in aid could have a devastating impact on their lives. Millions have lost what small livelihoods they had and with very little prospect of rebuilding their lives, they were depending on the support that international aid represents.
“As a leading advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan and the global drive to eliminate extreme poverty, the UK government has acknowledged that aid must reach people of all ages. The proposed reduction in aid commitments risks turning previous pledges into nothing more than words.
“Any cuts to international aid, will put older people in even more danger, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will further compromise the ability of the aid sector to fulfil their commitments to leave no one behind.
“It is unconscionable that the UK government would roll back on its longstanding commitments to aid exactly when it is needed most.”