Christian Aid responds to prospect of DFID losing its independence
LAB adds: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced to parliament on 16 June that DFID, the Department for International Development, responsible for all UK overseas aid, will be merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK’s ministry for foreign affairs.
While Latin America has historically counted for only a small part of the UK foreign aid budget, the change is significant and likely to further subordinate decision-making about aid to trade, foreign policy and geopolitical objectives. UK Aid expenditure by country can be viewed here which shows that the total budgeted for FY 2020/2021 is £26.7m
This strong statement, echoed by others in the overseas aid sector, many MPs and by three former UK prime ministers, is unprecedented.
DFID-FCO merger is a retreat from UK’s ambition to be a world leader in the fight against poverty
Christian Aid has today responded to widespread reporting that the Department for International Development (DFID) will be stripped of its independence and folded into the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO).
Patrick Watt, Christian Aid’s Director of policy, public affairs and campaigns said:
“Today’s announcement is an act of political vandalism. Stripping the Department for International Development (DFID) of its independence and folding it into the Foreign and Commonwealth office threatens a double whammy to people in poverty, and to our standing in the world.
“The timing couldn’t be worse for people living in poverty, when for the first time in a generation, COVID-19 is driving a dramatic increase in extreme poverty. Far from being a symbol of ‘global Britain’, this move risks making Britain more parochial, and weakening its credibility in the rest of the world.
“Without an independent DFID the UK’s ability to help tackle poverty, and the impacts of the climate crisis and conflict, will be reduced. The government’s own independent aid watchdog shows that aid spent by DFID is more effective and transparent than aid being spent by other government departments. The UK has a moral responsibility towards the world’s poorest.
“As Christian Aid’s chair Dr Rowan Williams said during the last general election campaign, ‘we need an intelligent and independent Department of International Development embedded in a government that thinks about long-term global stability. There is not much point in a development programme that co-exists – for example – with selling arms to states pursuing aggressive and brutalising wars with their neighbours.’”
Main image: A mine site in Ariquemes, Rondônia state, Brazil. Mining, cattle ranching and soya cultivation have resulted in Rondônia becoming one of the most deforested places in the Amazon, and caused tensions and violence between migrant populations. This photo accompanied an April 2018 report of Christian Aid’s Amazon Strategy. Photo: Christian Aid