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Concerns about the UK’s “slow” and “minimal” aid response to the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria this week were raised in Whitehall.
Britain sent 77 search-and-rescue experts and four search dogs to Turkey on Tuesday to find survivors amidst the rubble of the quake and £8 million on Wednesday, including thousands of tents, blankets and hygiene kits. We announced some very important equipment.
The government is also expected to launch millions more in aid over the next few days after the earthquake that has killed more than 11,000 people so far, with the UK’s response similar to other countries, a study said. according to, Reuters.
but I We understand the concerns among Foreign and Federal Development Office (FCDO) officials about the scale of the response after the aid budget was cut from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income by Rishi Sunak in October 2021. increase.
A day after Hurricane Irma made landfall in September 2017, a comparison was made with the £32 million pledged for the Caribbean. This outweighs the government’s overall current crisis reserves, which were cut from his £500m in 2018-19 to £30m this year.
There are also concerns among officials that a search and rescue team arrived about 20 hours behind schedule on Tuesday night.
An official at Whitehall warned that the late arrival risked a poor chance of finding survivors after the first magnitude-7.8 quake struck early Monday morning.
They also said the UK was losing its role as a global leader in aid spending due to cutbacks in the ‘short-termists’ and losing civil servants with development experience.
“Sadly, this is the inevitable decline of UK aid projects and the UK’s role as a development powerhouse,” they said.
“Our response is slow and minimal, not only because we are short on cash, but also because we are running out of development staff.”
Commons Development Commission Chair Sarah Champion said: I She will challenge the FCDO for a “substantial cut” in aid reserves.
“Horrible events like this underscore the importance of contingency reserves so that when disaster strikes, we can quickly assist when it’s needed most,” she said.
“Though money is flowing to Turkey and Syria, the UK’s crisis reserves appear to have been cut.”
Champion acknowledged that it was difficult to get an accurate picture of the funding comparison due to changes in accounting processes, but added, “This is a significant reduction and we will be making inquiries with the FCDO.”
She also welcomed additional funding in excess of £800,000 allocated to Syria’s White Helmets Civil Defense “in the coming weeks and months” for frontline relief efforts.
Shadow development secretary Preet Kaur Gill expressed concern over the delay in the arrival of search and rescue teams and urged the government to deploy cash from crisis reserves.
“We know the first 72 hours are critical in this kind of emergency,” she said.
“It is imperative that governments do not let pressure on their aid budgets prevent them from responding quickly and effectively.
“It is alarming that after 48 hours we still have sketchy details about a search and rescue operation that arrived in Turkey one day behind schedule.
“We are seeing turmoil again within the FCDO as development professionals are not allowed to continue their work.”
She also urged the government to “put the house in order” and lift the blockade of “the only border crossing for aid to Syria, which is currently suspended.”
“They must deploy emergency aid to civil defense and NGOs in Syria from the crisis reserves.”
The British government announced Wednesday that it will provide thousands of medical kits, tents and blankets, along with medical teams to help 15,000 survivors in sub-zero temperatures in both countries.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said the facility “will help keep people warm and protected in the horrific cold they have to endure, in addition to the devastating damage caused by the earthquake.” .
“Our priority is to work with the Turkish government, the United Nations and international partners to ensure that life-saving assistance reaches those who need it most.”
FCDO has been contacted for comment.