UK will lead world on tackling famine and Covid with new department, says Raab

Merging DfID and FCO will cement Britain ‘as a force for good’, Raab claims, but critics fear aid will be deprioritised

Dominic Raab pledged Britain will take the global lead in tackling coronavirus and the growing risk of famine in developing countries by combining diplomatic strength with “world-leading” aid expertise, as the newly merged Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) prepared to launch on Wednesday.

In his first appointment as head of the FCDO, the foreign secretary appointed Nick Dyer, acting permanent secretary of the former Department for International Development (DfID), as the UK’s first special envoy for famine prevention and humanitarian affairs.

The merger of DfID and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to form the FCDO, announced by Boris Johnson in June, has been widely criticised, including by three former prime ministers. Critics have expressed concern it will jeopardise Britain’s position as a world leader in development and risk abandoning its commitment to people in low-income countries.

Raab announced a £119m aid package to tackle coronavirus and famine, aimed at alleviating extreme hunger for over 6 million people in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic, the Sahel region, South Sudan and Sudan.

Ahead of a year in which the UK takes on the presidencies of the G7 and COP26, the foreign secretary urged other countries to step up and help the developing world as it faced a series of challenges.

He said: “Coronavirus and famine threaten millions in some of the world’s poorest countries, and give rise to direct problems that affect the UK, including terrorism and migration flows.

“Global Britain, as a force for good in the world, is leading by example and bringing the international community together to tackle these deadly threats, because it’s the right thing to do and it protects British interests.

“We can only tackle these global challenges by combining our diplomatic strength with our world-leading aid expertise.”

Last week, critics expressed concern over the timing and makeup of the FCDO senior leadership team, which includes five former FCO staff and only two former DfID personnel.

The UN has warned the world faces its worst food crisis in 50 years, as looming recession following the coronavirus pandemic puts food security out of the reach of many. Fifty million people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty this year, with food systems under threat as never before.


Karen McVeigh

The GuardianTramp

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