The Scottish Government has announced it will give £2 million to help children in some of the world’s poorest nations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
International development minster Jenny Gilruth said the cash will provide “essential help to those who are in desperate need”.
The announcement comes after the UK Government’s controversial decision to cut the international aid budget, reducing the amount spent from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has stressed the UK Government’s “intention” is to return spending to the higher level when the fiscal situation allows.
The decision prompted criticism, including from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who branded it “deplorable”.
Working with the humanitarian aid organisation Unicef, the Scottish Government cash will help address the impact of the pandemic on children in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.
The money will be split equally between the three countries and used to help pay for specific needs in each of these, such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as healthcare, immunisation and nutrition.
In addition to this, it will also assist Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia in preparing to distributing Covid-19 vaccines, when these are available.
Ms Gilruth said: “We know that the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges of our times.
“The disease has spread quickly to all corners of the world and its capacity to virulently spread has overwhelmed even the most resilient health systems.
“So we are delighted to be working with Unicef on this project to support their work, especially with children, in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda.”
She added: “In a week where the UK Government has reneged on its commitment to help some of the world’s poorest countries, this funding underlines that Scottish Government is deeply committed to fulfilling its role as a responsible and compassionate global citizen.
“This aid will provide essential help to those who are in desperate need.”
Lucinda Rivers, head of Unicef Scotland, welcomed the funding.
She said: “We are delighted that the Scottish government has chosen to award Unicef Scotland £2 million towards our coronavirus response in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.
“The world is currently facing its worst crisis for children since the Second World War, and children have never needed our support more.
“The pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges for many, impacting their survival and wellbeing.”
She added: “With this grant, we’ll be able to reach more children in Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia with vital services, including access to learning materials while schools are closed, protection from gender-based violence and continuing vital routine immunisation to prevent the spread of disease.
“We thank the Scottish Government for their generosity at a time when it is most needed and look forward to continuing our partnership with them through this work.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe