Bishop of St Albans asks about famine in the Horn of Africa

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question about the government’s assessment of the famine in the Horn of Africa on 13th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the famine in the Horn of Africa.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con): My Lords, the crisis in east Africa continues to worsen. Drought is causing significant levels of food insecurity. Over 51 million people in the region are estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, and of particular concern is the recent data from the Bay region in Somalia projecting that famine is likely to occur this year. The UK is a major humanitarian donor to the east Africa region and UK-funded activities are making a difference and saving lives. In the financial year 2022-23, the UK intends to provide approximately £156 million in humanitarian aid across east Africa. Of this amount, nearly 50% has already been allocated to help those affected by this devastating crisis.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, a combination of conflict, climate change, increasing world food prices and a fifth year of drought means that we have an absolute humanitarian crisis hitting this part of the world. In Somalia alone, the UN is estimating that about half a million children are likely to die shortly. We have slashed our aid budgets to that part of the world. We need emergency funding as well as long-term funding. What can we do in addition to what the Minister has said in working with our international partners to get emergency aid into those areas which are dreadfully affected?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park: My Lords, it is absolutely right to say that the UK reduced the proportion of its GNI spending on overseas aid from 0.7% to 0.5%, but we are committed to returning to 0.7%. Like many noble Lords, I hope that happens as soon as possible, but in the meantime it is worth reiterating—to remind the House—that we remain one of the world’s most generous donors, particularly when it comes to humanitarian assistance, and the proportion of our ODA which goes toward the very poorest people in the world is higher than that of any of the other G7 donor countries, I believe. It is an important point that if you tot up all the international aid provided year on year, which comes to around $160 billion a year, that is not a patch on the actual needs, so we will not solve these problems through ODA alone. That is why our emphasis in the UK on facilitating easier trade with poorer countries and bringing investment to them is so important to leverage the support we can give.


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