Monday, January 24, 2022

Tonga Urgent Question: Not a penny for new aid in Tonga this year, following aid cut

Layla Moran MP has today been granted an Urgent Question on the humanitarian situation in Tonga, following the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano on 15 January. 

Liberal Democrat analysis from the Government’s own DevTracker shows that UK aid spending in Tonga has been reduced to £0 in 2021-22, a reduction of more than £500k on 2020-21, in the first year of the Government’s aid cut. 

The Government is yet to announce the release of any new financial aid to the country following the eruption. Layla Moran criticised the Government’s decision to cut the international development budget, saying that it “has left us responding to disasters like this with one hand tied behind our back”. 

The eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano and subsequent tsunami in Tonga on 15 January has particularly affected smaller islands - on one of which, all houses were destroyed. According to NASA, the size of the blast was greater than that of an atomic bomb.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the UK Government to urgently provide emergency aid, and to reinstate the 0.7% of GNI target for international development spending. 

Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, commented:

“The UK must stand by our Tongan friends by providing urgent emergency aid. The Government’s failure to do so is yet more proof of the debilitating impact of the aid cut - which has left us responding to disasters like these with one hand tied behind our back.

“As a result of the Conservatives’ cruel aid cut, we are not even giving a penny of support to Tonga. Our Government talks about standing with our Commonwealth partners - but in their time of need the mask has slipped. 

“The misguided decision to abandon the international development target has wrecked the UK’s long standing friendships, and hampers our ability to respond effectively to humanitarian disasters from Afghanistan to Tonga. 

“The UK Government must immediately provide humanitarian support to Tonga, and restore the 0.7% of GNI target for international development spending.”

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