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Statement of Merger

A disability activist in Bangladesh

Statement on the DFID/FCO Merger.

ADD International is concerned that the UK Government’s decision to merge the Department of International Development (DFID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will have considerable negative impact on the lives of millions of people with disabilities living fragile lives in developing countries of Africa and Asia.

We join with colleagues from across the international development sector in urging the UK Government not to abandon the world’s most marginalised people at this time of global crisis.

The UK’s international aid programme is founded on the promises to Leave No One Behind in the drive to eradicate extreme poverty and to ‘prioritise the interests of the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people; the poorest of the poor and those people who are most excluded and at risk of violence and discrimination’. It is essential that the creation of the new Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) maintains these promises, and we urge the UK Government to re-confirm its commitment to Leave No One Behind in its overseas aid programme.

In recent years, DFID has been a global leader for disability rights and inclusion, championing the interests of hundreds of millions of people with disabilities in the developing world. Merging DFID with the FCO runs the risk of losing precious ground on the gains that have been so hard fought for over decades of disability activism and advocacy as we strive to build the more inclusive world we all want to see, with equal rights for everyone. We urge the UK Government to uphold its commitment to people with disabilities in the developing world and to build on its global leadership platform and funding commitments to further global disability rights and inclusion.

The creation of the new FCDO comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to reach its initial peak in many countries of the developing world. The pandemic will have an increasingly devastating impact on billions of people – both in terms of loss of life, as well as on fragile livelihoods and national economies. Repercussions will be felt for months and years to come. At ADD International we know full well that the COVID-19 pandemic has a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, who, in turn, are disproportionately left out of the pandemic response. Now is the time for the UK Government to step-up and do more to support the international response to COVID-19. We urge the UK Government to commit more funding support to the international efforts to fight COVID-19 in developing countries, especially for people with disabilities. The world cannot defeat this pandemic unless we fight it everywhere.

For our part, ADD International will remain focused on our mission to support people with disabilities in Africa and Asia; and we will continue to do all we can to support the disability-inclusive response to COVID-19 during this time of pandemic. ADD International will work with the new FCDO and continue advocating for greater priority for disability inclusion in the UK’s overseas aid programme.

We will continue to fight for the rights of people with disabilities, as we strive to ensure that we Leave No One Behind, and we very much hope that the merger of DFID and FCO into the new FCDO will not affect the UK government’s ability and capacity to do the same.