The Latest News from Syria Relief

By Othman Moqbel, Chief Executive Syria Relief

Syria Relief, the largest Syria-focused NGO in the UK, has urged the government not to reduce its annual aid budget from the legally binding 0.7%, as has been reported there are plans to do.

Othman Moqbel, Syria Relief’s Chief Executive, says:

“We understand that times are tough for everyone right now, but no more so than those living in extreme poverty and in warzones. The UK budget should not be balanced on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

“As even self-confessed “aid sceptic”, the economist, Sam Bowman said today, when hailing the transparency of UK aid spending “Cutting the aid budget is a bad idea… Here’s how the UK spend its aid money. Not on hydroelectric dams, but on polio eradications, vaccinations for children, food aid, clean water and other humanitarian programmes.”

“The people in war-torn Syria, in particular those in the North West and North East without an internationally recognised authority, are not only dependent on UK aid, but they have had their suffering considerably alleviated by the British aid budget. As Middle East Minister James Cleverly MP told the Westminster Hall debate on Syria three weeks ago, inside Syria alone the UK has spent £3.3 billion in aid since 2012. Providing 28 million food rations, 19 million medical consultations, 13 million vaccinations and is now committing to spend £33m on tackling COVID in an area where half the hospitals have been deliberately damaged and destroyed in order to achieve military objectives.

“Of Syria Relief’s project alone, the UK’s aid budget has indirectly provided funding for 33,189 students to attend 107 schools in North West Syria, for 3,200 children in North East Syria to be provided with the resources to learn from home during the ongoing pandemic, helped provide clean water for 5 schools and provided funding for 5 health care facilities (4 Primary Healthcare Clinics and a hospital).

“The Prime Minister talks about his desire for UK institutions to be ‘world-beating’, yet through our aid and development programme, the UK is truly a world leader. We ask the government, if it truly believes in the vision of a ‘Global Britain’, not to sabotage this through reducing the ability of the UK to be a force for good in the world and to not attempt to reverse the legally binding commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid.”

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