How Much Aid Is The UK Government Giving To Afghanistan?

Boris Johnson says UK will "double" aid to Afghanistan to £286m, despite cuts to the overall foreign aid budget.
Boris Johnson's official spokesman said the £286m in aid would not be given to the Taliban but would be distributed in conjunction with the UN and other NGOs.
Boris Johnson's official spokesman said the £286m in aid would not be given to the Taliban but would be distributed in conjunction with the UN and other NGOs.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Boris Johnson has announced a U-turn on aid to Afghanistan, pledging that the UK will now “double” its spending on the war-torn country.

The increase comes in spite of the fact that the UK has reduced its overall aid budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% - a cut of about £4bn.

However, the government has said official development assistance (ODA) will now double to £286m, and on Wednesday Downing Street defended the increase in light of the reduction in overall aid spending.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “This is new ODA [official development assistance] funding in addition to the current aid budget”, which stood at £167.5m for 2020-21.

“I think people will accept that when the situation changes on the ground, we need to react accordingly, that’s what we’ve done.”

However, the spokesman was keen to stress: “We are not giving this money to the Taliban.”

Instead the funding will be distributed in conjunction with the UN and other non-governmental organisations.

The government came under fire for its aid policy to Afghanistan after it emerged that direct aid to Afghanistan was due to fall to £37.5m for 2021/2022 - at the same time as scaling back military assistance.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab initially suggested the UK could withhold ODA - intended to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries - as a “lever” against the Taliban, “pending reform and a more inclusive government”.

Raab then said the government would look to increase aid to Afghanistan by 10% - a figure mocked as “pitiful” in light of the 78% cut.

Figures from the House of Commons library shows that the most recent increase to £286m in fact is shy of what the UK £292m in aid the UK gave to Afghanistan in 2019.

At the Afghanistan conference held in Geneva in November 2020, the UK government pledged £155m in aid for 2021.