Aid budget rules did not stop help reaching hurricane victims, Government says

Cheryl Sanders
September 15, 2017

These are British Overseas Territories and it should be up to this Government - and not others - to determine how emergency and humanitarian relief is funded. Officials claim many millions more will be needed to help with reconstruction.

The spokesman said: "This was an unprecedented disaster and it's absolutely right that the Government responded immediately to the needs of those affected".

There are very strict worldwide rules around what officially counts as foreign aid, making it clear that only the poorest countries can receive what is known as official development assistance or ODA.

"This was our primary focus and continues to be our priority".

Countries are given a ranking according to need, which is meant to ensure the poorest countries take priority, and Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands do not qualify because their incomes are too high.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said the Government was "looking at how the current overseas aid rules apply to disasters" such as Hurricane Irma.

"These millions [announced by the government] are non-ODA, therefore they come from rather scanty resources".

The news came as it was announced the United Kingdom plans to provide a further £25 million in aid to the hurricane-wrecked British overseas territories, on top of the £32 million already pledged.

Under OECD rules, member states can only send foreign aid to countries on a list approved by the World Bank.

"For some time this Government has felt that these rules are not flexible enough for the needs of the complex modern world, and we are in talks with the OECD about adjusting these rules", he said.

"We are not sitting here working out what's Official Development Assistance (ODA) eligible and what's not".

The UK has pledged a total of £57 million towards disaster relief and the public has helped to raise a further £1.3 million.

He told the Press Association: "I am very pleased that since very early on, since Friday, we have had troops here and they helped to get things going".

The Government is seeking an "urgent" change to global aid laws to help Britain improve its assistance to its Hurricane Irma-hit overseas territories. Their inhabitants include many people who have been left destitute with literally nothing - why should they not receive the kind of support afforded to victims of natural disasters in Africa and Asia? "I think more than 50 police officers, more police officers coming in tonight, huge quantities of supplies coming in", said Johnson.

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