Hackney North MP Diane Abbott spoke up in favour of the effectiveness of UK aid on Monday. She told the House of Commons: “I saw evidence of the drought that is sweeping across eastern and southern Africa. Anyone who says our money is being thrown away should see, as I saw, the starving people who have lost their livelihoods because their livestock has perished. They are dependent on the aid funds that come from overseas.
Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, was referring to sights she had seen in Somaliland during a visit earlier this year where she saw the good work being done by Islamic Relief and the Muslim Charities Forum. She was speaking to the House of Commons as MPs debated a public petition to reduce the UK budget for overseas aid. The budget is currently set at the international standard of 0.7% of national income, and the hostile petition was promoted by the right wing Daily Mail and signed by over 230,000 people.
Diane Abbott’s sentiments were echoed by Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton), who said: “A strong reason for keeping the 0.7% commitment is that it has particularly helped women. Women have been lifted out of poverty. That has been particularly apparent in Bangladesh, where Muhammad Yunis has helped to provide microfinance for women’s start-up businesses.”
Together, MPs established the practical achievements of UK aid. Over the last five years alone, UK aid has:
•supported 11 million children through school;
•given 60 million people access to clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene;
•provided nutritional support to 28 million under fives and pregnant women and emergency support to a further 13 million people;
•supported nurses, midwives and doctors to ensure 5 million births took place in safe conditions;
•provided 47 million bed nets, which has helped cut malaria deaths by 60%.
•Islamic Relief held a Live Appeal on the Islam Channel yesterday with a view to raising funds to support orphans. It is also raising funds for Gaza. There are four special Iftar events to contribute to this fund, at which cricket legend Waqar Younis will be the special guest. The events are in Croydon (24th June), Luton (25th), Birmingham (26th) and Slough (2nd July). For more information and to reserve tickets, go to: http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/events/iftar-with-waqar-younis/