UNICEF has pledged £25,000 to help community project, School Food Matters, deliver healthy breakfast food boxes to children in Southwark over Christmas.
The grant represents the first time in its 70-year history that Unicef UK has developed a UK domestic emergency response.
It will allow School Food Matters to deliver 18,000 nutritious breakfasts to 25 schools for distribution around Southwark, south London, over the two-week Christmas holidays and February half-term.
The move comes after the UN agency, which responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, said the pandemic is the worst global crisis facing children since World War Two, with millions of children unable access health and nutrition services, education, water and sanitation.
Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees Mogg, was questioned about the situation by Labour’s Zarah Sultana today (December 17). He slammed Unicef’s decisions to intervene, accusing the agency of ‘playing politics’.
Sultana, who is the MP for Coventry South, said: ‘For the first time ever, Unicef is having to feed working-class kids in the UK.
‘But while children go hungry, a wealthy few enjoy obscene riches. From Tory donors handed billions in dodgy contracts to people like the Leader of the House, who is reportedly in line to receive an £800,000 dividend payout this year.
‘So will Rees Mogg give the government time to discuss the need to make him and his super-rich chums pay their fair share so that we can end the grotesque inequality that scars our society?’
Rees-Mogg hit back in response, saying the government has committed to reducing child poverty, has expanded free school meals to all five- to seven-year-olds and is spending £400m on supporting vulnerable children, families and people.
‘I think it is a real scandal that Unicef should be playing politics in this way when it is meant to be looking after people in the poorest, the most deprived, countries of the world where people are starving, where there are famines and where there are civil wars.
‘And they make cheap political points of this kind, giving, I think, £25,000 to one council. It is a political stunt of the lowest order.’
‘Since 2010 to 2018/19, there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty in this country.
‘This is a record success of conservatism and Unicef should be ashamed of itself.’
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said it was a ‘disgrace’ that one of the richest countries in the world has to rely on humanitarian charities.
‘The fact that Unicef is having to step in to feed our country’s hungry children is a disgrace and Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak should be ashamed.
‘We are one of the richest countries in the world. Our children should not have to rely on humanitarian charities that are used to operating in war zones and in response to natural disasters.
‘Old Etonian hedge fund founder Jacob Rees Mogg, who has personal wealth over £100 million, says it is a ‘scandal’ that Unicef are having to feed hungry children in Britain.
‘The only scandal is this rotten out of touch government leaving over 4 million children living in poverty.’
Responding to the comments, Anna Kettley, Unicef UK’s director of programmes and advocacy, said:
‘Unicef UK is responding to this unprecedented crisis and building on our 25 years’ experience of working on children’s rights in the UK with a one-off domestic response, launched in August, to provide support to vulnerable children and families around the country during this crisis period.
‘In partnership with Sustain, the food and farming alliance, over £700k of Unicef UK funds is being granted to community groups around the country to support their vital work helping children and families at risk of food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Unicef will continue to spend our international funding helping the world’s poorest children. We believe that every child is important and deserves to survive and thrive no matter where they are born.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay