As the G7 summit opens today, the Prime Minister will need a bit of a brass neck to call on other countries to provide more support for low and middle income countries when the UK is cutting its International Aid budget by a third!
Covid funding provided by the UK masks the drastic cuts to core international projects, including on the health and education of women and girls, which the Government claimed was a key policy, as well as those delivering humanitarian aid and addressing HIV/AIDS, conflict zones, famine relief, refugees and child education. It is hard to believe that the UK Government think it is remotely reasonable to slash funding for water and sanitation in the middle of a pandemic.
The World Health Organisation has estimated that 80 million children are at risk from infectious diseases such as diphtheria, polio and measles owing to the disruption of immunisation caused by the covid pandemic, so vaccination projects should not face cuts. They need extra support to fund the necessary catch-up programmes. We must not allow the re-emergence of polio and other infectious diseases to take a toll on the children of low-income countries.
Covid is a global crisis and it calls for a global response. So far, the international community has struggled to live up to its warm words of last spring, but the UK is alone in cutting aid at such a critical time. Low-income countries have received less than 0.5% of all covid vaccines delivered so far, and the UK is one of those blocking the sharing of intellectual property and technology. This will prolong the pandemic for all of us and delay the economic recovery of low-income countries, and the UK Government must not compound the problem by removing support from some of the most vulnerable in the world.
You can view my full speech below