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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

UK foreign aid cuts: Thousands will die as a result, says report

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A report warns that thousands of women in Africa will face dire consequences due to the recent cuts in the UK’s overseas aid budget. The internal assessment by civil servants reveals that these budget cuts will result in almost 200,000 more women experiencing unsafe abortions. The impact will also extend to vulnerable women and girls in Afghanistan and Yemen, leaving them without critical services so UK foreign aid cuts.

The UK’s Foreign Office explains that the budget for low-income countries has been cut temporarily to achieve savings targets but will see a nearly doubled allocation in the future. Nevertheless, the current cuts are expected to significantly impact essential services in Afghanistan. Where a 76% reduction in aid will have dire consequences for women and girls. Due to budget constraints, half a million Yemeni women and children would be denied treatment. The report highlights that fewer preventable deaths will be avoided, and health systems in Yemen may suffer lasting damage if other donors are unable to fund.

The impact of these cuts is alarming, with reductions to the Women’s Integrated Sexual Health Programme in Africa leading to a decrease in protection for women. Causing the number of unsafe abortions averted to drop from nearly 300,000 to approximately 115,000. Moreover, maternal deaths averted will decrease from 2,531 to just over 1,000.

In Somalia, the cuts will force the Foreign Office to delay or potentially halt a program aimed at countering female genital mutilation. Additionally, in South Sudan, the humanitarian budget cuts will leave 27,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition untreated, with an estimated 3,000 of them potentially facing death.

In response to the widespread criticism and concern, the Foreign Office has attempted to mitigate the impact by reallocating “in-year underspends and other resources” to provide additional funding for countries affected by the cuts. However, opposition MPs and charity organizations have expressed their dismay over the severity of the cuts. Emphasizing the devastating impact on marginalized communities, especially women and girls.

The decision to cut the UK’s foreign aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income, breaking a previous commitment, has sparked widespread debate and opposition. The reduction has led to warnings from aid agencies and opposition from Members of Parliament, including some Conservatives. The government argues that the cut is necessary to help restore the public finances. Especially given the economic impact of the pandemic. However, many international organizations, including the World Health Organization, warn that these cuts risk millions of lives. This could lead to the incineration of nearly 280 million lifesaving tablets, leaving vulnerable populations at risk of neglected tropical diseases.

While the government has stated that £10 billion will still be spent on foreign aid in 2021, with £1.3 billion dedicated to global health. The concern remains about the long-term consequences of reduced funding for critical programs. The cuts have impacted vital health programs, leaving millions of people at risk of dying from preventable diseases in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The debate surrounding foreign aid cuts remains contentious, with advocates arguing for the preservation of aid commitments to support vulnerable populations in low-income countries. Critics emphasize the economic challenges faced by the UK and the need to prioritize domestic spending, especially given the impact of the pandemic. As the discussion continues, the consequences of these cuts on global health and human welfare are being closely monitored by both government officials and concerned citizens alike.

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