6 March 2021

The UK NGO sector has condemned the government's decision to cut aid to Yemen and is calling on the government to reverse its decision to cut the UK aid budget or at least give MPs a say in the decision.  

In a letter to the UK Prime Minister, they state “Yemen should have been a positive example of what merging The Department for International Development and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office could deliver”... “Instead, the UK continues to sell arms and is now cutting its humanitarian assistance by 60%.” 

“History will not judge this nation kindly if the government chooses to step away from the people in Yemen and thus destroy the UK’s global reputation as a country that steps up to help those most in need.”  

The charities, including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children and Care International, accuse the government of “misjudgment” in their confidence that “the British public are happy to turn away from countries on the brink of famine or affected by poverty, war and disease” and state that “the cuts to UK aid break a manifesto commitment and are taking place with no transparency, consultation or meaningful strategy, and if taken without parliamentary approval, will contravene the law.” 

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, said: “Slashing aid to Yemen - a country on the brink of famine - is a betrayal of Britain’s claim to global leadership and of British values. 

“Aid cuts are a false economy that will remove a vital lifeline from millions of people in Yemen and beyond who can’t feed their families, have lost their homes and whose lives are threatened by conflict and Covid. 

“The UK’s refusal to halt arms sales that are fuelling the conflict is immoral. I urge the Prime Minister to do the right thing – stop arms sales and restore life-saving aid.” 

Laurie Lee, CEO of CARE International said  

“I have seen first-hand the lifesaving work of UK Aid in Yemen and what these cuts will mean for 250,000 people, leaving them without essential food supplies when they are already on the brink of starvation.  

“And yet, these may be the tip of the iceberg as we wait to see where rest of the cuts will fall, and as we understand the full toll they will take on life and livelihoods around the world. The government must reverse this decision urgently before more lives are lost” 

The strong words from charity leaders follows widespread criticism from Conservative MPs, including Sir Edward Leigh, Andrew Mitchell, Tom Tugendhat, Tobias Ellwood, and Jeremy Hunt, and Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer. 

Ends 

Notes to editor

  1. For further information or interviews please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]
  2. The letter from the UK’s NGO sector comes after the UK government have announced cuts in humanitarian assistance to Yemen by 60%, despite warnings that the country was on the verge of the world’s worst famine in decades. Over 100 UK humanitarian, development and domestic charity leaders and organisations have signed on to the letter. Full text below:

Dear Prime Minister,  

As the leaders of 102 UK NGOs on the frontline of humanitarian and development programmes around the world and supported by millions of British people, we are writing to express our dismay at the government's decision to press ahead with cuts to UK aid, the first casualty being the people living in Yemen - where the world's worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding. We urge the government to reconsider the decision to cut the UK’s aid budget and reinstate the commitment to 0.7%, which all Members of Parliament have been elected on.   

Yemen should have been a positive example of what merging The Department for International Development and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office could deliver, bringing its combined diplomatic and development weight on all parties to end the conflict.  Instead, the UK continues to sell arms and is now cutting its humanitarian assistance by 60%. Only last week the UN warned that 21 million Yemenis, 66% of the population, are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in 2021. The UN Secretary General described the overall cuts to aid in Yemen as a ‘death sentence’. These are the consequences of the UK’s political decision to cut the aid budget in the wake of the pandemic.   

It is a misjudgment to think the British public are happy to turn away from countries on the brink of famine or affected by poverty, war and disease.  The money saved will make little difference to the UK budget. The cuts to UK aid also break a manifesto commitment and are taking place with no transparency, consultation or meaningful strategy, and if taken without parliamentary approval, will contravene the law. If the Government does not reverse its decision to drop the 0.7% commitment, MPs must urgently be given a say in parliament before further damaging and irreversible cuts to humanitarian and development programmes are made.   

Cutting aid to starving people is not the action of a global leader about to host both the G7 Summit and the climate change negotiations for COP26. History will not judge this nation kindly if the government chooses to step away from the people in Yemen and thus destroy the UK’s global reputation as a country that steps up to help those most in need.   

Signed,

Karl Hankinson, CEO, Able Child Africa
David Evans, UK Country Director, Ace Africa
John Good, Interim CEO, ActionAid UK
Jean-Michel Grand, Executive Director, Action Against Hunger UK
Andrew Betts, Director, Advantage Africa
Chris Roles, Managing Director, Age International
Heather Pitcher, Operational Manager, AgriTechTalk International CIC
Ian Govendir, CEO, Aids Orphan UK Trust
Dmytro Chupryna, Deputy Director, Airwars
Graeme Hodge, CEO, All We Can
Jonathan Hargreaves, Founder / Director, Amplifying Voices UK
Camilla Knox-Peebles, Chief Executive, Amref Health Africa UK
Alexandra Daniels, Chief Executive, APT Action on Poverty
Sheniz Tan, CEO, Asfar
Penny David, Director, Ashanti Development
Stephanie Draper, CEO, Bond
Peter Anderson, Chair, CADA NI Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies Northern Ireland 
Christine Allen, Director, CAFOD
Laurie Lee, CEO, CARE International UK 
Mr Anil Patil, Founder and Executive Director, Carers Worldwide
Kirsty Smith, CEO, CBM UK & BasicNeeds
Jill Healey, Executive Director, Child Hope
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Chief Executive, Christian Aid 
Justin Dowds, Chief Executive Officer, Compassion UK and Ireland
Jonathan Cohen OBE, Executive Director, Conciliation Resources
Ellen Waters, Director of Development, Doctors of the World UK
Monowara Gani, CEO, Doctors Worldwide
Lyndall Stein, Interim CEO, ELRHA 
Petter Matthews, Executive Director, Engineers Against Poverty
Dr Patricia Barnett, Director, Equality in Tourism International 
Jacqui Hunt, Head of Office, Equality Now
Sandra Golding, CEO, Feed the Minds
Patrick Fine, CEO, FHI 360
Paul Cornelius, CEO, Food for the Hungry UK 
Michael Deriaz, Chairman, Friends of Kipkelion 
Jessica Woodroffe, Director, Gender and Development Network 
Hyejoung Yang, Director, Good Neighbours UK 
Marie Rumsby, UK Country Director, Global Citizen 
David Hulme, Professor of Development Studies, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester
Bijay Kumar, Executive Director, Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR)
Martin Drewry, Director, Health Poverty Action
Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge International
Mark Waddington CBE, Chief Executive Officer, Hope and Homes for Children
Claire O’Shea, Head of Partnership, Hub Cymru Africa
Christine Sow, Chief Executive Officer & President, Humentum
Chris Lunch, Co founder & Director, Insight Share
Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies 
Helena Nightingale, Director, Integrated Village Development Trust
Jasmina Haynes, CEO, Integrity Action 
Julian Egan, Director of Advocacy and Communications, International Alert
Mark Galloway, Executive Director, International Broadcasting Trust
Adele Paterson, CEO, International Health Partners
Ognjen Radosavljevic, Managing Director, International Medical Corps UK
John Young, Executive Director, International Network for Advancing Science and Policy (INASP)
Melanie Ward, Interim Executive Director, International Rescue Committee UK 
Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive Officer, Internews Europe
Tufail Hussain, Interim CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide
Simon McGregor, Managing Director, JAM - Joint Aid Management
Paul Chitnis, Director, Jesuit Missions 
Fiona Bristow, Director, Kanaama Interactive Community Suport
Tom Kingsley, National Director UK, Light for the World
Julian Page, Director, Livingstone Tanzania Trust
Professor Claire Heffernan, Director, London International Development Centre
Jamie Balfour-Paul, Founder and Performing Magician, Magic for Smiles
Julian Watson, Director, Mbedza Projects Support
Catherine McCarthy, Chief Executive, Medical Aid Films
Alexandra Angulo, Interim Executive Director, Mercy Corps
Darren Cormack, CEO, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) 
Amanda Wilkinson, CEO, Motivation
Hamid H Azad, CEO, Muntada Aid
Kashif Shabir, CEO, Muslim Aid 
Irfan Khan, Director, Humanitarian and International Partnerships, Muslim Hands
Martin Hartberg, Director, NRC UK
Romilly Greenhill, UK Director, ONE Campaign 
Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive, Opportunity International 
Grethe Petersen, CEO, Orchid Project
Fadi Iskandarani, CEO, Orphans Care Federation
Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB 
Dylan Mathews, Chief Executive, Peace Direct
Rose Caldwell, CEO, Plan International UK 
Robin Maynard, Director, Population Matters
Paul Smith Lomas, Chief Executive, Practical Action
Julia Beart, CEO, Primary Care International
Kate Garvey and Gail Gallie, Co-Founders, Project Everyone
Terina Keene, Group Chief Executive, Railway Children
Aaron Oxley, Executive Director, RESULTS UK
Christopher Williams, Chairman, RTPay
Paul Murphy, Executive Director, Saferworld
John Fleming, CEO, Saint John of God Foundation
Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children
Dr John A McConnell, Managing Trustee, Scholarships for Street Kids
Dr Wendy Harrison, CEO, SCI Foundation 
Alistair Dutton, Chief Executive, SCIAF
Lewis Ryder-Jones, Deputy Chief Executive, Scotland's International Development Alliance 
Calvin Laing, Acting Executive Director, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN)
Christina Bennett, CEO, Start Network
Girish Menon, Chief Executive Officer, STiR Education 
Mike Podmore, Director, STOPAIDS
Nigel Harris, Chief Executive, Tearfund 
Tricia Young, CEO, Terre des hommes UK 
Michael Gidney, Chief Executive, The Fairtrade Foundation UK
Major General (Ret’d) James M Cowan CBE DSO, Chief Executive Officer, The Halo Trust
Shona Lockyer, Chair of Trustees, The Kambia Appeal
Simon Bishop, Chief Executive Officer, The Power of Nutrition
Patrick Young, Executive Director, Theatre for a Change
Justin Van Fleet, President of Theirworld, and Executive Director, Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for Education 
Philippa Carrick, Chief Executive Officer, Tibet Relief Fund
Sarah Ingleby, Chief Executive Officer, Tools for Self Reliance
Caroline Barber, Chief Executive, Transaid
Caoimhe de Barra, CEO, Trócaire 
Miss Clare Wearden, Director, Village Water Ltd
Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive, VSO International
Rob Williams, CEO, War Child
Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive, WaterAid
Mikey Rosato, CEO, Women and Children First
Jon Rosser, Chief Executive, World Child Cancer