Muslim charities say they are extremely concerned about the government’s intentions to cut the international development budget and believe this will lead to serious implications for vulnerable people, children and those living in abject poverty.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer recently announced plans to cut the UK Aid budget for international development from 0.7% to 0.5% of the Gross National Income, representing a £5 billion loss to developing countries.
Britain’s spending on overseas aid fell by almost three-quarters of a billion pounds last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. New statistics on the UK’s international aid spending in 2020 show it declined by £712million to £14.5 million.
But Muslim Charity leaders say they fear there will be repercussions not only in terms of fatalities and the spread of COVID-19, but also in an increase in the number of displaced people being forced to place their lives at risk by seeking refuge to the UK and other developed countries.
Dr Hany El-Banna OBE, Chairman World Humanitarian Action Forum, said: “Britons and the British government has always prided itself on supporting communities around the world and pushing for the rights of people. Reducing the budget for international development could not happen at a worse time. It will mean millions of children will not be immunised, many more will go without food and too many children will still not be able to access vital education. UK income has dropped but the 0.7% is still affordable as a proportion of the UK’s current wealth. The international community has always relied on the UK leadership in the most challenging circumstances.”
Shaykh Haytham Tamim, Founder and Senior Imam, Utrujj Foundation, said: “The cuts of UK Aid to developing counties could not come at a worse time. COVID-19 has affected everyone and for those in countries without proper access to healthcare and sanitation, the spread of COVID-19 has been catastrophic. Reducing the aid at a time like this breaks the UK’s promise to the global community and will put millions of lives at risk. We must do better.”
And Madiha Raza, Board Member, Muslim Charities Forum, said:”The UK government’s commitment in 2015 to invest 0.7% of GNI in international development demonstrated real leadership from our country on the world stage, and now, at times of unprecedented need and uncertainty around the world we should rise even further as ‘Global Britain’ and not surrender our commitments to support for the world’s most vulnerable.”