Church leaders in Wales have expressed their disappointment at the UK government’s decision to amalgamate the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office. In a letter signed jointly with the Christian Aid, they have urged the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure that the values and integrity of the department are protected in the future.
Cynan Llwyd, acting head of Christian Aid in Wales said, ‘We were really dismayed to hear of this decision by the Westminster government, especially at a time of such danger for the poorest communities of the world in the face of Covid-19 and the climate emergency. DiFD has been such an important partner in the fight against global poverty over the years. We feel that this good work is now in jeopardy.’
Presbyterian minister and Chair of Christian Aid Cymru, Nan Powell-Davies said, ‘As one of the richest countries in the world, we believe there is a duty on the UK to help eradicate poverty in the global south. For the first time in 2013, the UK hit its target of spending 0.7% of its national income on aid and development work. This was such an important moment for the country – something that enhanced our reputation.
‘But the amount we spend is not the only important point – how we spend is also crucial. DiFD had such an excellent reputation for spending the money well and transparently. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office just doesn’t have this reputation. It concerns us deeply, therefore, that the decision to amalgamate both departments could do real harm to the aid and development work the UK does.’
Cynan Llwyd added, ‘There is a long history within the churches in Wales of supporting the fight against poverty. It is a fundamental expression of our Christian faith. That work will continue but we truly hope that it will not be undermined by this reckless decision by the UK government.’
As well as Cynan Llwyd of Christian Aid, the letter has been signed by the Archbishop of Wales the Most Rev John Davies, Revd Nan Powell-Davies (Chair of Christian Aid Wales), Rt Rev Joanna Penberthy (Bishop of St David’s), Revd Meirion Morris (General Secretary, The Presbyterian Church of Wales), Revd Judith Morris (General Secretary, The Baptist Union of Wales), Revd Dyfrig Rees (General Secretary, Union of Welsh Independents), Revd Dr Jennifer Hurd (Chair of the Cymru Methodist Synod), Revd Christopher Gillham (Secretary, The Congregational Federation in Wales), Revd Dr Stephen Wigley (Chair of the Wales Methodist Synod), Revd Simon Walkling (Moderator, the United Reformed Church National Synod of Wales).