UK pledge of new aid money to South Sudan questioned

24 Feb 17

The UK has come under fire for dressing up a £100m ($125m) aid package for South Sudan as “new” when in fact it had already been allocated for the country in 2018.

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South Sudan hunger

The UK announced £100m in "new" aid for South Sudan, where a famine has been declared in some regions. But it has since emerged the funding might have just been shifted around.

 

Britain’s aid department announced the funding earlier this week after the world’s first famine declaration since 2011 was made for areas of the conflict-hit African nation.

The UK Department for International Development’s support, described as “new”, was welcomed by aid campaigners and others who believed fresh funds had been allocated to alleviate the growing food crisis across much of Africa.

After Public Finance International, the BBC, the Guardian and others initially reported the announcement as fresh funds, the latter later highlighted that the package involved no new money. Rather, funding already earmarked to go to South Sudan next year was being brought forward.

Speaking to the Guardian, opposition MP Stephen Doughty, who had initially welcomed the announcement, lamented the news.

“Life and death situations are not a time for government spin,” he said. “To dress this up as new support if it turns out it had already been promised would be deeply cynical.”

He called on the government to clarify whether organisations responding to the emergency would be given new support or not.

A DFID spokesperson said: “We have urgently pulled forward our support for South Sudan to ensure that more can happen to meet the desperate humanitarian need. When famine strikes, speed is of the essence for people left to die from hunger which is exactly why we have to act now.

“The UK is the first major donor to respond to the United Nation’s appeal to South Sudan and confirming the scale of our humanitarian response gives our partners certainty so they can start delivering desperately needed help immediately.”

The department said the £100m was allocated for the next financial year. However while it could have been spent on a wide range of activities, it would go to DFID’s partners to meet the immediate emergency needs now.

It said this action would not undermine the UK’s long term support to the crisis and that any future shortfalls arising from bringing funding forward would be addressed.

 

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