LONDON: The UK’s decision to cut funding for Syrian refugees, perhaps by as much as 50%, will see the country’s children and those displaced to neighboring states suffer disproportionately, Save the Children told Wednesday at Arab News.
Orlaith Minogue, senior conflict and humanitarian advocacy adviser at the charity, said children and mothers would “bear the brunt” of the cut, access to education, food and care health is about to be seriously disrupted.
“The UK’s generous support has been essential in providing health, education and protection services to Syrian families throughout the conflict,” Minogue said.
“However, after yesterday’s announcement, we now face a situation in which Syrian children will have to bear the brunt of a dramatic cut in UK aid, a move that could have devastating consequences then. that aid agencies struggle to save and support lives. support these children they desperately need.
The UK offered £ 205million ($ 281million) at a virtual UN donors’ conference this week, up from £ 400million donated last year, as part of more measures broads aimed at reducing international aid to rebalance the national budget after the coronavirus pandemic.
The plans, intended to cut foreign aid from 0.7 to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, had previously raised concerns that spending on a number of Arab countries – including Yemen, Lebanon and Libya – can be reduced dramatically.
These cuts, as well as those directly affecting Syria, could have serious repercussions on Syrian refugees, Minogue warned.
“The crisis in Syria, and for the Syrians, is not over, and much of the progress in the region to date is at risk due to the impact of COVID-19 and growing economic hardship,” a- she declared.
“In northwestern Syria, two-thirds of children are out of school and many may never be able to return. In Lebanon, 90 percent of Syrian refugees live in poverty without access to sufficient food, ”she added.
“These numbers only scratch the surface of the levels of need in Syria and neighboring countries. Any decision to cut funding now puts the survival of the most vulnerable at risk. “
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK has given more than £ 3.5bn in aid to help Syrian refugees since 2012, suggesting the current donation is commensurate with the size of the British economy.
But Save the Children CEO Kevin Watkins issued a statement calling the reduction “disastrous,” adding: “The reduction will have a catastrophic impact. This could mean that nearly half a million children are deprived of education and more than 100,000 mothers and children go hungry. “
He said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg; in the end, lives could be lost as a result of this government’s decision to step back at a time when the Syrians desperately need us to act.
“This reduction is another reminder of the catastrophic consequences of the government’s decision to break its promise to keep the aid budget at 0.7% of national income and they urgently need to rethink this approach.”
Jean-Michel Grand, executive director of the Action contre la Faim association, also condemned the cut.
“This is a war-ravaged region, ravaged by COVID-19, and with an economy in free fall. In 10 years of conflict, the situation has never been worse, ”he said in a statement.
“In November, the British government told MPs that it would continue to stand with the Syrian people in times of need. Reducing our aid commitment… does not represent such solidarity or support, ”he added.
“The world is watching to see what ‘World Britain’ really means and so far the omens are not good. We cut aid to Yemen, a country on the brink of famine, and followed suit by cutting support for Syria by 32%.
The United Nations conference, which aimed to raise $ 10 billion for internally displaced Syrians and refugees in neighboring countries, was only able to get $ 6.4 billion, with just 4.4 billion. billion dollars made available this year.
Despite the overall cut in funding, several leading economies – including Germany, France and the United States – have not reduced their spending pledges for Syria.
Germany has offered 480 million pounds for this year and the same amount next year. France has pledged $ 657 million.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the conference that half of the Syrian population needs help, 90% living in poverty. He added that at least 2.4 million Syrian children did not have access to school.
“The Syrian tragedy is not to last another 10 years,” Maas said. “Ending this starts with restoring hope. It starts with our commitments – here, today. “