Countries that should be at the forefront of trying to prevent catastrophes are turning a blind eye
My heart sank last week when President Trump announced proposed cuts in the diplomatic and foreign aid budget. The budget suggests cuts in aid to international organisations by 44%, humanitarian assistance funding would drop by 31% and global health programmes would be cut by 25%. While many people think the budget has little chance of passing in Congress, it does, however, provide an alarming sense of the Trump administration’s priorities.
But its not just a US concern. Earlier this month, the Australian government announced it will cut $303m from the foreign aid budget over two years. In the UK, Theresa May’s pledge to continue meeting the UN’s 0.7% aid target was a great relief, although this good news has since been tarnished by the claim that poverty reduction in the world’s poorest countries risks being diluted by the UK government devoting a bigger share of its aid budget to pursuing the national interest.
This comes at a time when the world faces its worst humanitarian crisis since 1945, according to the UN. Twenty million people face starvation without an immediate injection of funds in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.
I keenly observe these developments, not as part of the international aid community but as someone who sees the desperate need for aid every waking hour of the day. Since 2007, I have been the only doctor permanently based in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, home to 750,000 people. It is also a conflict zone. War has raged since 2011 between the Government of Sudan, and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement.