HART Joins Push to Overturn Cuts to UK Overseas Aid Budget with Letter to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

21 June 2021

Read our letter to the Foreign Secretary, which explains how aid cuts will impact HART’s local partners:


Dear Dominic,

I and colleagues at Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) share widespread concerns over the cuts to UK spending on foreign aid. In particular, we have urgent concerns that cuts will compound the suffering of our local partners in Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, South Sudan, Nagorno Karabakh and Syria – all of whom experience acute suffering but remain off the radar screen of the FCDO.

Nigeria: Thousands of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced by ongoing sectarian violence in the Middle Belt, where the UK does not provide any humanitarian assistance. Our local partner, Revd Canon Hassan John, told us recently that for over ten years, villages in the Middle Belt have been forced to rely on aid from local churches or NGOs. He said: “I can say categorically that there has been very little or no aid, not even from the state or Federal Government of Nigeria… I am not aware of any assistance from the British Government in the central region.”

Myanmar: Military violence has resulted in increased displacement, including among the forgotten communities in Chin, Kachin, Shan, Karenni and Karen states. HART partners within these communities urge the FCDO to provide cross-border food supplies and medical aid – engaging directly with in-state leaders of ethnic groups and NGOs working with them – because aid delivered through Yangon will not reach the most vulnerable people in the border regions.

Sudan: Although civilians in the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) have received some international assistance since the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir, food security continues to deteriorate as food prices rise. A lack of qualified teachers and learning materials affect the quality of education. Our local partner Benjamin Banaba told us recently: “Apart from HART in [the] Nuba Mountains, there is no other indigenous or international or UN agency able to provide any educational or scholastic material or anything to do with education. Your project is the only project that exists on the ground and everyone relies on it.”

South Sudan and Abyei: Even before UK aid cuts were announced, many communities leaders in South Sudan felt inhibited from accessing FCDO aid because of complicated bureaucratic requirements. We urge you to make funds available to those who undertake programmes that supply essential services, such as food, education, health care, agricultural development and small-scale entrepreneurship. There is an especially urgent need for the FCDO to ensure aid reaches the disputed and volatile region of Abyei.

Syria: Around three quarters of habitable Syria and two thirds of the overall territory is now controlled by the Syrian Government, including the town of Maaloula, where we partner with St Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee to empower local women to generate their own income. Civilians in these areas desperately require humanitarian assistance and help with reconstruction. Will you ensure that UK-backed sanctions do not continue to prohibit this, and that adequate aid will be given to the areas controlled by the Syrian Government?

Nagorno Karabakh: Eight months have passed since the UK sent a £1million aid package to Nagorno Karabakh. We have received no commitment from the FCDO to extend these funds, despite the ongoing suffering of ethnic Armenians, who have endured mass displacement and destruction of their homes, businesses and vital infrastructure. HART partner, Vardan Tadevosyan, directs the Lady Cox Disability Rehabilitation Centre in Stepanakert. Following the recent war, he was left with no choice but to expand his work to accommodate injured soldiers. Many of his staff are displaced yet the number of patients is expected to double. The decision to cut spending on foreign aid confirms the fears of our partners and their local communities: the UK has turned a deaf ear to their cry for help. We therefore urge you to give greater priority to their concerns and to increase – not decrease – FCDO engagement in these areas.

I would be very grateful if we could arrange a brief e-meeting to discuss these urgent priorities, where I would also be glad to provide further information about the inspirational projects of our local partners, who remain un-helped by the UK Government.

Yours sincerely,

Baroness Cox,
Founder and CEO, Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)


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