The UK Government has informed us that it is reducing its support for our humanitarian mine action programmes, a move that will affect the lives of vulnerable people affected by conflict.
Our initial estimate is that the decrease in funding will amount to almost 50 per cent in the current financial year.
The impact of these cuts on conflict-affected communities will be significant. Landmines and unexploded bombs affect 60 million people in the world today. They kill and they maim. They stifle economic growth and hinder sustainable development. They exacerbate instability in fragile communities blighted by the debris of war.
Whilst we welcome the renewed commitment to our programmes in South East Asia and our strong partnership with the UK Government in Cambodia and Laos, we are deeply concerned at cuts that will affect the Middle East.
In Lebanon, for example, all UK funding for our work has been withdrawn, impacting on people already struggling with a deepening economic crisis.
We do recognise, however, the globally significant commitment which the Government has made to mine action over the last four years. This has made a tangible difference to hundreds of thousands of people in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, helping them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods after conflict.
We also recognise the health and economic crisis which has engulfed the UK and the rest of the world as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But this is precisely the time when the Government should be stepping up — not stepping back — and fulfilling its manifesto commitment of 0.7 per cent of national income in overseas assistance, supporting the millions of people afflicted by poverty, inequality and war.