To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she is taking with her counterparts in Commonwealth countries to ensure that UK aid is directed effectively to communities which are disproportionately affected by lockdowns due to the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.
Multilateral organisations, including the United Nations, International Financial Institutions and the Commonwealth, have an important role to play in the global response to COVID-19. We are working with all our international partners in order to galvanise a stronger global effort.
We are preventing the poorest countries, which represent a quarter of the world’s population, from collapse by supporting their economies and access to skills and education. Economic disruption hits the world’s poor the most, and would deepen a global recession, making it harder for all of us to bounce back and prosper.
DFID has programming and/or a presence in 40 of the 54 Commonwealth member countries. We have assessed existing DFID bilateral programmes that are relevant, wholly or in part, for our response to COVID-19. Some existing DFID bilateral programmes are already being adapted to support vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 in partner countries. For example, in Bangladesh UKAID is providing a package of assistance that includes support towards the Government’s National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 and help to maintain essential humanitarian services. It is also helping to prepare Rohingya and host communities for COVID-19 preparedness in the Rohingya refugee camps. Further changes to bilateral programmes will be considered in response to the evolving situation.
We will continue to engage with Governments and international organisations in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that the perspectives and interests of Commonwealth member states – particularly the smallest and most vulnerable – are well understood in international fora.