Syrians believe further hardship in store after UK aid cuts

Syrians believe further hardship in store after UK aid cuts
A new report from British charity Syria Relief found that thousands of Syrian are worried about their future survival following cuts to UK aid.
2 min read
31 January, 2022
British MP Andrew Mitchell said aid cuts have done 'untold damage to the UK's reputation' [source: Getty]

Hundreds of displaced Syrians believe cuts to UK aid will put their lives at risk, amid worsening winter conditions, a new report published by Syria Relief said on Sunday.

The British charity conducted an exclusive survey with over a thousand Syrians living in both Syria and Lebanon last year and found that almost all respondents were worried about how a reduction in foreign assistance would adversely impact them. 

In the 15-page report, Cuts with a Double-Edge Sword, Syria Relief revealed that 70 percent of Syrians have a lower opinion of the UK following the decision to slash overseas aid by around £4.5 billion from 2019 to 2021. 

"British soft power, among beneficiary communities, has taken a huge hit," said the report. 

Out of the 1,019 people who responded to Syria Relief’s survey, 70 percent said they were aware of UK government aid cuts and 95 percent said they were worried about how this would impact their family's survival in the coming months. 

Live Story

Featured in the report were a number of stories from Syrians living in refugee camps who expressed concerns about their future as foreign aid budgets shrink. 

Ayoub from Idlib, a 30-year-old with six children, who has been living in a tent since 2013 said: "I'm extremely concerned about how I'll be able to afford to survive this winter, with my support being cut."

The former shepherd said he was in debt and has offered to sell his kidney on Facebook in order to support his children and wheelchair-bound wife.

The New Arab contacted the UK Foreign Office about the report's findings. We received this response from an FCDO spokesperson: “The UK is one of the largest global aid donors and to date has spent over £3.7 billion in response to the Syrian crisis.

“Our aid provides life-saving humanitarian support to millions of Syrians, including emergency food, health and shelter, and supports refugees to remain in countries in the region.”

In March 2021, just days after the 10 year anniversary of the Syrian conflict, then UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that aid to Syria would be cut by one-third. This meant a drop in funding to around £205 million compared to £300 million in the previous year. 

 In the foreword for Syria Relief's report, Andrew Mitchell MP said: "thousands of lives" had been lost as a "direct result" of cuts to UK aid.