UK government admits no impact assessment of Yemen aid cut

UK government admits no impact assessment of Yemen aid cut
The UK government has made no assessment into the impact of a 60 percent aid cut to Yemen despite fears of famine.
3 min read
22 April, 2021
The UN says millions are at risk of famine in Yemen [Getty]
A British official has acknowledged that the UK government had made no attempt to assess the impact of a controversial decision to cut aid to Yemen by two-thirds.

Charities and lawmakers from across the political spectrum have slammed the decision to cut international aid to Yemen by 60 percent, which came amid condemnation over continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

In a meeting with the Commons' International Development Committee on Tuesday, Chris Bold, development director for Yemen, told MPs that no impact assessment had yet been made before implementing the huge aid cuts.

Aid organisations gave a stark description of the impact of cuts, The Guardian reported.

Gillian Moyes, Save the Children's deputy Yemen director, said the organisation's cash-transfer programme would be forced to end in June.

The United Nations has frequently warned that millions of Yemenis are at risk of famine, with another 16 million categorised as "food insecure".

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was redirecting most of its remaining aid funding to combating hunger, said James Cleverley, minister for the Middle East and North Africa.

Sultana Begum, advocacy manager for Yemen at the Norwegian Refugee Council, told MPs that food insecurity was not the only risk posed by UK aid cuts.

UK aid had enabled many Yemeni girls to stay in school and avoid early marriage, Begum said.

Diplomatic efforts must be matched with commensurate funding, she added.

UK campaigners eye block on arms sales

Concerns around the UK government's decision to cut aid to Yemen comes as campaigners mount a fresh legal challenge around continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has since 2015 headed an international coalition battling the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

A 2019 court ruling found UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful as they were made without assessments into alleged breaches of international law in Yemen.

Campaigners are challenging a UK government decision last year to renew arms sales to Riyadh despite concerns that Saudi-led bombing had led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and created what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The UK has approved more than $2 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since resuming sales last year, arguing that any breaches of international law by Saudi-led coalition forces were "isolated incidents".

A legal challenge against the sales by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) can be heard by the High Court, a judge ruled this week.

A hearing is likely to take place later this year, CAAT said in a statement.

"Attacks on civilian sites have been widespread and systematic, and have hugely increased the death toll. Despite its complicity in this crisis the UK government has done all it can to keep the arms sales flowing," said campaigner Sarah Waldron.

"The decision to renew arms sales was immoral, and we are confident that the High Court will conclude that it was also illegal."

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