UN Population Fund chief regrets Britain’s funding cuts

The executive director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Natalia Kanem, on Thursday regretted the British government’s announcement of steep funding cuts.

UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, has been informed that the British government intends to cut by 85 percent of its funding to UNFPA Supplies, the UNFPA flagship program for family planning, this year, said Kanem in a press release.

This means that the expected contribution of 154 million pounds (211 million U.S. dollars) for 2021 will be reduced to around 23 million pounds (32 million dollars). In addition, 12 million pounds (17 million dollars) is to be cut from UNFPA’s core operating funds. Several country-level agreements are also likely to be impacted, she said.

“These cuts will be devastating for women and girls and their families across the world. With the now-withdrawn 130 million pounds (180 million dollars), the UNFPA Supplies partnership would have helped prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions,” said Kanem.

UNFPA recognizes the challenging situation facing many donor governments, yet deeply regrets the decision of its longstanding partner and advocate to step away from its commitments at a time when inequalities are deepening and international solidarity is needed more than ever, she said.

“The truth is that when funding stops, women and girls suffer, especially the poor, those living in remote, underserved communities and those living through humanitarian crises,” said Kanem.

The needs of women and girls and their right to modern contraceptives have not changed, and UNFPA remains resolute and dedicated to its mandate. Her agency is assessing the full scope and impact of the cuts and is actively formulating mitigation strategies, she said.

“We count on the continued support of the international community and call on all our partners and allies to come together and secure the vitality of UNFPA Supplies and of all our programs,” said Kanem.