UK announces aid package to fight coronavirus, famine

Aziz Idris

The United Kingdom’s (UK) Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now become the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) following a merger, a press statement said yesterday.

In the FCDO statement announcing the launch of the department, FCDO Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab announced that the UK will lead the global call to protect the world’s poorest people from coronavirus and the increasing threat of famine.

The coronavirus pandemic, conflict, locust swarms and climate change have left 250 million people worldwide facing extreme hunger this year, with parts of Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Burkina Faso on the brink of famine. Without international attention, many more will die from hunger and disease, and the pandemic will continue to spread in developing countries and the wider world.

He pledged to use the UK’s diplomatic levers and aid expertise to build a stronger international consensus to fight back against the devastating impacts of coronavirus, conflict and climate change.

The UK will commit a new GBP119 million aid package to tackle the combined threat of coronavirus and famine, which is expected to help alleviate extreme hunger for over six million people in Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Central African Republic, Sahel, South Sudan and Sudan.

Dominic Raab has appointed Nick Dyer as the UK’s first Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs to work in partnership with other donors, United Nations (UN) agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and foundations to help prevent catastrophic famine.

He said, “Coronavirus and famine threaten millions in some of the world’s poorest countries, and give rise to direct problems that affect the UK, including terrorism and migration flows.

“Britain is leading by example and bringing the international community together to tackle these deadly threats, because it’s the right thing to do and it protects British interests.

“We can only tackle these global challenges by combining our diplomatic strength with our world-leading aid expertise.

“The UK has committed to spending 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid, and the formation of the FCDO will make sure our diplomatic influence and development expertise are combined to the best effect on the global stage,” he said.