The purpose of international aid is to end extreme poverty and save lives. This should never be up for debate.

Today, the UK Prime Minister has made the decision to merge the Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). 

DFID was responsible for spending the bulk of the UK’s international aid — the only part of our national budget dedicated to tackling the shocking inequality that leaves 736 million people living on less than USD $1.90 per day. 

Now that the UK government has merged DFID with the FCO, it is critical that the UK public calls on the Prime Minister to ensure that our life-saving budget continues to reach those in greatest need. As he announced the merger, Boris Johnson’s speech implied aid should be spent primarily on furthering foreign policy — implying aid spent in countries like Zambia and Tanzania would be better spent elsewhere, even though some of the world’s most vulnerable people live in these countries.

If the focus of our budget changes and prioritises foreign policy over the needs of the world’s poorest people, it will cost lives.

With the knock-on effects of COVID-19 threatening global development and stability, aid is more important than ever. Experts are making horrifying projections — an additional 50 million people could be pushed into poverty this year, and the UN warns the world is facing the worst food crisis in 50 years. 

DFID was ranked third in the world for aid transparency and accountability. We must make sure this excellence is maintained under the FCO’s leadership. Wherever the aid budget sits one thing is clear, the British people stand for an open, equal and compassionate world, and want to see the same opportunities for every person, regardless of where they are born. 

We believe that UK aid should always, unfailingly, put the world’s poorest people first, and be effective and transparent in all it does. 

This is a devastating decision — and could have devastating consequences if we don’t act now. Send an email and tweet to Boris Johnson and call on him to ensure that UK aid’s is always focused on the world’s poorest people.