The plan by the United Kingdom (UK) government to merge the Department for International Development (DFID) into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been condemned by Charity Organisations in the country.
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had said that the departments would become Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office. He added that the merger was the opportunity for the UK to have a greater influence on the world stage.
However, more than 100 charities called on the government to retain DFID, warning that it would damage the UK’s commitment to humanitarian aid and dilute work on tackling problems in the developing world.
The Director of Policy, Public Affairs, and Campaigns at Christian Aid, Patrick Watt, said, ‘Today’s announcement is an act of political vandalism. Stripping [DFID] of its independence and folding it into the [FCO] 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’.
As for the Chief Executive of Save the Children UK, Kevin Watkins, he noted that the move would weaken the UK’s ability to provide support for the world’s poorest children at a time when they needed the UK’s support and solidarity.
‘DFID’s independence has ensured that its aid spending is focused on fighting poverty and inequality, whereas aid administered by the [FCO] has been widely criticised as less effective, less transparent and less value for money. There is now a real danger that narrow views of national self-interest will trump the explicitly humanitarian concerns at the heart of DFID’s remit,’ he said.
The Executive Director of Concern Worldwide UK, Danny Harvey, also added that the decision could have grave consequences for millions of people living in extreme poverty.
‘Merging DFID with the [FCO] sends a worrying signal that the eradication of poverty is no longer the primary aim of UK aid. By fusing aid with the national interest, we risk leaving the most vulnerable behind and undermining some of the great progress that has been made’, Harvey noted.
Source: Third Sector
Photo source: Simon Berry