The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has voiced grave concern about the decision of the British government to reduce funding to the agency.

“We depend on these resources to sustain our humanitarian and development programmes for millions of children around the world, helping us to reach them before, during and after crises,” said UNICEF in a statement on Thursday.

“Any cuts to these vital funds will have serious consequences for the most vulnerable children, especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global spike in the number of those in need of essential education, protection, health and water services. We estimate that 150 million additional children are living in multidimensional poverty because of the pandemic.”

It is too soon to know the full impact of the British funding cuts on UNICEF programmes, but early indications paint an alarming picture, reports Xinhua citing the statement.

The British government has announced a 60 per cent reduction in core funding to UNICEF. In addition, London has also announced pauses and reductions to earmarked contributions for UNICEF programming at the local, regional and global levels.

“The UK government has long been a key partner for UNICEF’s work for children around the world. While we recognize the challenging financial situation currently facing governments, the needs of children have never been greater. We continue to engage with the UK Government on our shared agenda for children worldwide and trust that the government will meet its commitment to reinstate the 0.7 per cent GNI (gross national income) aid spending target as soon as possible. UK leadership on the global stage is needed now more than ever,” said the statement.

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