Policy Updates

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UK triples humanitarian assistance to Gaza to US$120 million, continues to face access issues

May 24, 2024 | UK, Nutrition, Gender Equality, Nutritious Food Systems, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, WASH & Sanitation | Share this update

On May 24, 2024, ICAI released an informative note on the UK's humanitarian response to Gaza, which showed that the UK has tripled the planned amount of assistance to the region since the outbreak of the crisis in October 2023.

The note did not make evaluative judgments on the UK’s performance. It complemented a report published by the IDC on March 1, 2024, on the UK’s humanitarian response to the situation in Gaza.

The note reported that over 35,000 people in Gaza have lost their lives as a result of Israel's military campaign retaliating against a violent attack against its citizens. 1.7 million people are currently displaced in Gaza, with 1 million facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

The note shows that between 2022 and 2023, the UK was due to spend GBP26 million (US$30 million) in ODA to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with a further GBP27 million (US$32 million) to be allocated for FY2023/24. The humanitarian assistance included funding to UNRWA.

In response to the crisis, the UK announced an additional GBP70 million (US$84 million) in assistance, tripling planned funding for the territories in FY2023/24 to more than GBP100 million (US$120 million). The UK Ministry of Defense has supported the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territories.

In November 2023, the UK revised its humanitarian strategy, initially focusing on diplomacy, advocacy, and flexible funding. Priorities included obtaining multiple humanitarian pauses and increasing humanitarian land access to Gaza. Two additional revisions followed the first.

Most of the support provided by the UK was flexible funding for partners with a long-existing presence within Gaza. In-kind donations to support shelter, core relief items, and logistical support were prioritized, as well as appropriate logistical support. UK humanitarian assistance focused on health support, food and nutrition, shelter, WASH, and support to address GBV and ensure child protection.

The note indicated significant difficulties in getting assistance to those who need it due to restricted access to Gaza. It also showed that the UK has presently put its funding to UNRWA on hold due to allegations, since disputed, that some of its staff were involved in the October attack.

The note finally indicated several potential future lines of inquiry that could be conducted by the ICAI, the UK IDC, or other investigative bodies. The lines included:

  • What are the circumstances in which the UK would publicly state its assessment of whether Israel has violated international humanitarian law, and what would be the consequences of such an assessment;
  • Given the critical role of UNRWA, what are the UK’s plans for further funding;
  • What is the UK’s strategy for restoring adequate food and essential goods supplies to Gaza and ensuring sustainable humanitarian access;
  • Should the UK continue to support the development of a maritime corridor;
  • What preparations is the UK making to respond to the long-term harm suffered by the population of Gaza; and
  • What planning is FCDO undertaking, with international partners, for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza.
Report - ICAI

Christian Aid calls for UK government to take action to tackle debt crisis in Africa

May 16, 2024 | UK, Nutrition, Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, WASH & Sanitation, International development, Climate, Global Health R&D, Global Health, Security policy | Share this update

On May 16, 2024, international NGO Christian Aid released a new report, titled Between Life and Debt, that outlined the devastating debt crisis engulfing Africa and calling on the UK government to address the crisis through legal intervention.

The report, which draws on testimonies from Christian Aid partners in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia, revealed that:

  • Total external debt service by all African countries was US$85 billion in 2023 and US$104 billion in 2024;
  • In 2023, African countries spent over 50 times more on external debt than they received in aid from the UK (and 50% more than total assistance to the region);
  • 25 African countries spend more on debt than education; and
  • 32 African countries spend more on debt than healthcare.

The report asserted that the debt problem is largely due to Western private lenders, who have lent to Africa at extremely high interest rates, far higher than other sovereign lenders like China. Total external debt service by all African countries to private creditors was US$39 billion in 2023 and US$47 billion in 2024, and that private creditors charge the highest interest rates of 6.2%.

Christian Aid argued that the UK government has the unique power to help remedy the crisis, given that most private creditors, due to colonial history, are governed by British law. The organization called on the UK to step up and take action to change UK law to compel private creditors to cancel debts and stop the crisis.

Report - Christian Aid News article - BOND

UK to increase humanitarian ODA to Yemen by 58% for 2024, 2025

May 15, 2024 | UK, Nutrition, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, WASH & Sanitation, Global Health | Share this update

On May 15, 2024, UK Foreign Minister David Cameron met with Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak and announced that the UK would increase its humanitarian assistance to Yemen by 58% from 2024 to 2025, for a total of GBP139 million (US$166 million), to alleviate the worsening humanitarian crisis.

The funding will mainly be delivered through critical partners like WFP and UNICEF and is aimed at supporting primary healthcare, including child vaccinations and vital nutrition interventions.

Over half the population of Yemen is dependent on humanitarian assistance. Since 2015, the UK has provided more than GBP1 billion (US$1.2 billion) in assistance to Yemen.

Press release - UK government

C7 releases international civil society communiqué around seven key issues

May 15, 2024 | Italy, Germany, EUI, Japan, Canada, US, France, UK, Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Nutritious Food Systems, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, WASH & Sanitation, Climate, Global Health | Share this update

On May 14-15, 2024, the C7 summit was held at the UN FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, organized by the Italian Civil Society Coalition that led, coordinated, and moderated the C7 2024 process.

Approximately 400 global representatives took part in the event, as well as international decision-makers, including FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, Italian G7 sherpa Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni, Cardinal, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Pope’s envoy for the Russian-Ukrainian conflict Matteo Maria Zuppi, and Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign Marina Ponti.

The official C7 communiqué that listed the international civil society recommendation to the G7’s Leaders around seven key issues was released at the event, which included:

  • Economic justice and transformation;
  • Climate, energy transformation, and environmental justice;
  • Global health;
  • Principled humanitarian assistance;
  • Peace, common security, and nuclear disarmament;
  • Human mobility and migration; and
  • Food justice and food systems transformation.
C7 communiqué

UK emphasizes security, importance of supporting multilateral organizations

May 9, 2024 | UK, Climate, Global Health, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health | Share this update

On May 9, 2024, UK Foreign Minister David Cameron spoke on UK foreign policy at the National Cyber Security Unit, where he highlighted that UK foreign policy is linked with ensuring the domestic prosperity and security and the UK's place in the world, noting that the UK is both large enough to make a significant impact but small enough to act nimbly and quickly when needed.

Cameron noted that the top priority for the UK is ensuring both British and global security, reiterating the UK government’s commitment to spend 2.5% of GDP on defense by 2030 and committing 5% of the spending to defense R&D.

Cameron went on to note that a close second priority was standing up for British values of freedom, human dignity and human rights and supporting the multilateral system that upholds these values. He highlighted how much more funding the UK provides to tackling malaria via the Global Fund than Iran, and how much more the UK spends than Russia on funding the UN Central Emergency Fund for humanitarian disasters. Cameron also emphasized the UK's generosity as a donor to the GCF to support oceans and biodiversity.

Cameron expressed pride in the UK’s recent International White Paper and its drive to support the UN SDGs, reform MDBs, and enhance cooperation with the private sector.

Speech - UK government

UK to step up response to ODA funding fraud

May 2, 2024 | UK, Nutrition, Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Agricultural R&D, Nutritious Food Systems, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, WASH & Sanitation, International development, Climate, Global Health R&D, Global Health, Security policy | Share this update

On May 2, 2024, the UK government responded to the ICAI, the UK’s aid watchdog, recommendations for tackling fraud in UK ODA funding.

The FCDO thanked ICAI for reviewing the UK's approach to combating fraud in ODA funding released earlier in 2024. The FCDO partially accepted ICAI’s first recommendation to take a more robust and proactive approach to anticipating fraud. The FCDO noted that it was actively exploring the cost-effectiveness of creating an FCDO Fraud Intelligence Unit and was expanding its Fraud Liaison Officers’ Network to strengthen oversight.

The FCDO also partially accepted the second recommendation to strengthen its fraud in its top 20 ODA recipient countries, noting that it will reinforce the mandatory annual assurance assessment across control and risk areas and expand its Fraud Liaison Officer's network.

The FCDO fully accepted the final two recommendations, which called for new fraud management guidance to be written for capital investments and to increase the Head of Mission’s oversight and accountability for fraud risks relating to centrally managed and other government programs.

Report - UK government

UK calls for further action to ensure comprehensive SRHR

April 29, 2024 | UK, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning | Share this update

On April 29, 2024, UK Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Mitchell highlighted the fundamental importance of comprehensive SRHR at the UN’s 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development.

Mitchell noted the encouraging progress in improving SRHR since the turn of the century, with a 20% fall in unintended pregnancies and a doubling of the number of women using contraceptives. However, he emphasized that tough challenges still lie ahead, with maternal mortality and rights stagnating and female genital mutilation cases increasing.

Mitchell called on the international community to ensure that the forthcoming UN Summit of the Future, taking place September 2024 in New York, focuses on the issue of SRHR as a top priority. Mitchell also announced US$8 million for a new maternal and newborn health and rights program as the start of a much larger pledge the UK intends to make in 2024 and called on other countries to join the UK in the endeavor.

Press release - UK government

UK Shadow Foreign Minister sets out Labour Party vision for UK foreign policy

April 17, 2024 | UK, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Climate | Share this update

On April 17, 2024, UK Shadow Foreign Minister. David Lammy outlined the Labour Party’s vision for UK foreign policy if it were to win the next national election in the autumn of 2024.

Lammy grounded the party's vision in progressive realism. He lamented how the Conservative governments since 2010 have turned the UK inwards, threatening its standards of upholdingupholding international law and damaging the UK’s reputation as a global development leadership. In particular, Lammy highlighted the Conservative Party's mismanagement of DFID and the FCO merger, ODA budget cuts, and the exodus of development expertise.

To deliver progressive realism, Lammy argued that the UK needs to be realistic about the state of the modern world. This would begin by recognizing that the previous common consensus that economic globalization would lead to more liberal democratic values was wrong. Democracies have become more dependent on authoritarian states, with the share of world trade between democracies declining from 74% in 1998 to 47% in 2022.

Lammy also pushed to recognize the rise of China's economic and military power, the decline of US hegemony, and the rise of key regional powers non-aligned with specific blocs, able to strike deals with all the great powers as and when they like. This group includes Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which are capable of ignoring the US, EU, and UK as they conduct business. He noted rising insecurity at the global level, with a strong focus on Russia and the ever-growing climate emergency as significant challenges.

Looking ahead, Lammy asserted that security will remain the central task of British foreign policy, and the two most important allies for ensuring security will be the US and Europe. He acknowledged that the UK must show willingness to share in the collective global security burden, but also noted the need to strengthen its foreign and security ties with Europe. Lammy called for a new geopolitical partnership with the EU driven by closer coordination in military, economic, climate, health, cyber, and energy security issues.

Beyond Europe, Lammy called for a focus on building relationships in the Indo-Pacific region, noting the need to maintain and strengthen ties with Australia, Japan, South Korea and India as pivotal partners. With regard to China, Lammy noted the UK must simultaneously challenge, compete against, and cooperate with China on the world stage.

On development, Lammy called for the UK to partner with the 'global south', particularly fostering engagement on tackling climate change, without which the global climate agenda will fail. He called for the Commonwealth to be revitalized as part of this engagement. As progressive realists, Lammy asserted that the UK needs to also look ahead at the future and how its relationship with other continents will change. He cited that by 2050, one in four people on the planet will live in Africa, yet the continent remains troubled by poverty, necessitating a new 'Africa strategy' beyond ODA to develop win-win partnerships based on mutual self-interest.

Beyond security, the Foreign Office will play its role in revitalizing the UK economy and trade through economic diplomacy. Lammy noted that if he becomes the next Foreign Minister, he will convene a new business advisory council to ensure that the needs of companies inform British diplomatic thinking.

Lammy finally called for putting climate diplomacy is at the center of UK foreign policy, noting that a Labour government would make advancing the fight against greenhouse gases central to its agenda. He advocated for the creation of a new clean power alliance, what he described as a reverse OPEC, of states committed to leading the way on decarbonizing power systems. A Labour government would also help reform international financial institutions to provide far greater support for climate adaptation.

News article - Foreign Affairs

UK announces US$119 million in additional in humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia

April 16, 2024 | UK, Family Planning, Global Health, WASH & Sanitation, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Nutritious Food Systems, Climate | Share this update

On April 16, 2024, UK Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Mitchell announced an additional GBP100 million (US$119 million) in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia.

The funding is slated to be used to support Ethiopia’s access to primary healthcare services, support communities in becoming more climate resilient, and provide help for people displaced due to drought and extreme weather.

The pledge was made at the UK co-hosted Ethiopia pledging conference with OCHA. Ethiopia is facing one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, with over 21 million requiring assistance, 15 million people facing food insecurity, and 4 million people internally displaced.

Press release - UK government

UK announces US$39 million for family planning, MNCH, green energy access in Tanzania

April 4, 2024 | UK, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Family Planning, Climate | Share this update

On April 4, 2024, UK Minister for International Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell committed GBP27 million (US$32 million) to improve family planning care and MNCH in Tanzania and a further GBP6 million (US$7 million) to boost vulnerable communities access to green energy in the country.

The announcement was made in anticipation of Mitchell's four-day trip to East Africa. The commitment included:

  • GBP15 million (US$18 million) for a five-year initiative to improve Tanzania’s primary health systems, with a focus on saving the lives of mothers and babies;
  • GBP12 million (US$14 million) to extend the UK’s Scaling up Family Planning Programme for an additional two years, enabling an additional 900,000 people to receive services; and
  • An additional GBP6 million (US$7 million) for a new program to provide vulnerable communities with greater access to clean energy and improved urban resilience.

During his trip, Mitchell also announced a Mutual Prosperity Partnership with Tanzania, which aims to unlock GBP1 billion (US$1. 2 billion) of UK government-backed investment in Tanzania between 2024 and 2030 and increase UK-Tanzania trade.

Press release - UK government






US$ amounts are cited directly from sources; in the absence of an official conversion, they are calculated using the previous week's average of the US Federal Reserve's daily exchange rates.

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