UK plans funding cuts to UN agency01 May 2021
The United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency UNFPA on Thursday said Britain's "devastating" plan to slash its annual funding would lead to some 250,000 more deaths around the world.Britain has told UNFPA it will implement an approximate 85% cut to the agency's flagship programme for family planning, contributing £23 million this year instead of its original commitment of £154 million.
"These cuts will be devastating for women and girls and their families across the world," UNFPA said in a statement.
"With the now-withdrawn £130 million, the UNFPA Supplies Partnership would have helped prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he believed people "will understand" the cuts in light of spending pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are still one of the biggest donors in the world and I think people in this country should be very proud of that," he said.
"But I also think that they will understand, and I know that other countries around the world understand, the particular pressures of the pandemic that mean we have to economise in that way."
The agency acknowledged "the challenging situation facing many donor governments", but said it "deeply regrets the decision of our longstanding partner."
"The truth is that when funding stops, women and girls suffer, especially the poor, those living in remote, underserved communities and those living through humanitarian crises," UNFPA said, adding that it was "actively formulating mitigation strategies." Britain says it needs to trim its legally enshrined aid budget to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Emergency pandemic support measures have sent Britain's annual borrowing rocketing to the highest level since World War II, official data showed Friday.