A NEW report shows the UK Government is exacerbating humanitarian crises around the world after cutting international aid spending and missing funding deadlines, the SNP have said.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) published its annual Emergency Watchlist report this week which identifies the 20 countries at greatest risk of humanitarian crises next year.

It is anticipated Somalia, Ethiopia and Afghanistan will face the most severe crises, while the list also includes countries like Yemen, Haiti, and Ukraine.

The findings also show many of the “guardrails” protecting crises-affected communities from catastrophe have been weakened, allowing conflict, climate change, and economic turmoil to overload humanitarian systems.

Despite this, the UK Government has refused to reinstate the target of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international development.

It was ditched in November 2020 by Rishi Sunak – who was chancellor at the time – making the UK the only G7 country to cut foreign aid spending during the Covid pandemic. 

READ MORE: Central Scotland sees amber weather warning amid heavy snow

If the Tories had kept their manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI, the Official Development Assistance would have been £4.6 billion bigger.

The UK Government has missed successive deadlines for funding to international programmes, including the Green Climate Fund and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In addition, International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell said earlier this month 30% cuts to bilateral programmes were expected as “open ended” costs ate into the aid budget.

The National: Alyn Smith says the UK must take international aid more seriouslyAlyn Smith says the UK must take international aid more seriously (Image: Colin Mearns)

The SNP are now calling for the 0.7% targeted to be reinstated to help the world's most vulnerable. 

Alyn Smith, the party's Europe and EU Ascension spokesperson, said of the report: “The IRC’s Annual Report demonstrates the need for the UK to take its international development responsibilities seriously.

“The UK was the only G7 country to cut foreign aid during the pandemic. Its routine failure to meet funding deadlines as well as reinstate the 0.7% target means that far too many people in the developing world are suffering the catastrophic effects of the UK Government’s decisions.

“The situation is dire but it is not too late to help many of those most at risk of humanitarian disasters in the coming months.

“The need is all the more pressing as we face a global food crisis, worsening economic headwinds and the increasingly devastating effects of climate change. The UK has the means to help those who need it most and it is a damning indictment of its current state of affairs that it is failing to do so.

“Scotland will continue to play its part as a good global citizen in the world where it can but it is only with independence that we can take a far more effective and different course towards helping the world’s most vulnerable people, at home and abroad.

“The papers we published earlier this year show that the SNP is not short of ideas, and we would urge the FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] to take our recommendations seriously.”

The report follows findings from the UN that 2023 will see a record 339 million people in need of aid - a 24% increase from 2022.

The UK was described as an “unreliable partner” by the UK director at STOPAIDS after it missed the deadline to donate to the Global Fund to Fight Aids in October.

It was also reported in October that the tropical disease snail fever had returned to Zanzibar after being eliminated following UK aid cuts.