UK cuts humanitarian assistance to Syria by nearly third; meanwhile, speculation grows over who will take over top UN humanitarian position

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, has announced that the UK will provide £205 million (US$275 million) to the Syrian refugee program at a recent donor pledging conference. This represents a cut of up to a third of the UK’s contribution from last year, which amounted to £300 million (US$403 million), and the cut comes despite heavy lobbying for the UK to maintain its commitment to Syria.

The decision to cut the budget comes as speculation grows as to who will replace Mark Lowcock, the former Permanent Secretary of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), when he leaves his role as the head of the UN’s humanitarian operations. Lowcock announced that he was departing imminently in order to spend more time with his family. The post has traditionally been given to a British national, though there is a drive to select the person based on merits.

British nationals in the running include Nic Dyer, the UK Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs, or Harriet Mathews, the Director for Africa at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Outside of the UK, Olof Skoog (a Swedish diplomat who is the EU Ambassador to the UN), William Chemaly (a Lebanese human rights and humanitarian protection specialist who has worked as a Senior Policy Advisor for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)), and Koen Davidse (a Dutch Executive Director at the World Bank) have all been proposed as potential candidates.

News article - The Guardian

News article - The New Humanitarian