London, UK, March 30, 2021 — David Miliband, President and CEO at the International Rescue Committee, said:
‘The UK’s pledge of £205 million at today’s Syria conference marks a sharp 32 per cent reduction, from the £300 million pledged last year, and almost half of the £400 million given in 2019. Coming just weeks after the 10-year anniversary of the conflict, this decision is deeply concerning, especially given the high impact that British aid has had over the last ten years.
The Brussels Conference was a key opportunity for the UK to show it remains committed to addressing one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our time. This latest reduction in aid to Syria is completely out of touch with the reality facing Syrians, who are worse off now than at any point in the last decade. 13.4 million people in Syria are in desperate need of aid, 2 million more than last year.
Continuing last year’s level of UK funding to Syria would cost only 0.004% of UK GDP. Yet Syrians could pay a heavy price for these cuts, including the 210,000 people who rely on food assistance paid for by UK Aid.
Syria is on the brink of the worst hunger crisis in its history. Despite the UK’s famine envoy warning that “preventing famine is a choice”, the UK’s choice has been to turn away. These cuts occur just as the number of food insecure people in Syria has risen to record levels, with 60% of the population now going hungry.
Diplomatic action is not a substitute for aid but the UK’s reputation on Syria now depends on its ability to show what its diplomacy can achieve. Ensuring the continuation of cross-border assistance into Syria when the UN Security Council votes in July is critical; 2.4 million Syrians a month rely on aid delivered this way.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.