UK aid cuts risks famine for Yemeni children: charity

UK aid cuts, 'incoherent strategy' risks famine for Yemeni children: charity
3 min read
08 May, 2021
Save the Children has slammed the UK's aid strategy as 'inconsistent' as London plans to slash budgets by as much as 80 percent.
Save the Children says the aid cuts put tens of thousands at risk [Getty]

Britain is cutting aid to feed children in nations like Yemen and South Sudan, prompting outcry from charities and human rights organisations who say doing so will lead to famine.

Some 80 per cent less aid will be spent on nutrition services compared to before the coronavirus pandemic, leaving a total budget of less than £26 million ($36.3m).

Save the Children says such cuts will leave tens of thousands of children at risk of malnutrition and famine. The UK-based charity said that malnutrition contributes to roughly "half of all child deaths" globally.

Save the Children added that "pandemic-related increases in malnutrition could also equate to 4.4 million lost years of schooling".

The charity's dire warning comes as the G7, this year hosted by the UK, is set to publish a Humanitarian Crisis and Famine Prevention Compact which recognises the deteriorating global hunger situation and calls for effective action in response.

The UK has been pulling back funding for several humanitarian initiatives, including cutting funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative by 95 per cent, which puts countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan at risk.

"The UK’s strategy is incoherent and inconsistent," said Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy at Save the Children UK.

"The government is paying lip service to preventing famine while slashing the very programmes that will keep malnourished children alive, at a time when global hunger is increasing. We are looking at the near collapse of British help for hungry children in some of the world’s poorest and most dangerous countries, including Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan.

"Ending preventable child deaths will never be achieved when we ignore the role prolonged malnutrition plays in the development of a child and their future quality of life."


Last month, the United Nations warned that millions of people in Yemen and South Sudan are at risk of famine.

In parts of Jonglei state in South Sudan, UN agencies said famine was already occurring, and "urgent, at-scale action is now needed to stop likely widespread starvation and death".

Overall in South Sudan, some 7.2 million people are expected to be in food crisis - with high malnutrition or just marginally meeting minimal food needs - from April to July.

Some 2.4 million people are classified as in an "emergency" situation, with 108,000 people in the agencies' "catastrophe/famine" grouping.

Urgent action is also required to prevent further destitution in parts of Yemen, the report said, with the number of people in or nearly in famine estimated to triple from 16,000 last October-December to more than 47,000 this June.

The number of people facing acute food insecurity in Yemen will rise by three million, it said, to 16.2 million people, with five million in an emergency situation.

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