Brexit and Trump may hit world’s poorest, Trócaire warns

Agency says developments in US and UK raise ‘profound questions’ for the poor

Brexit and the outcome of the US presidential election have raised “profound questions” for the world’s poor, the development agency Trócaire has said.

In its annual report for the financial year ending February 28th, 2017, due to be published this week, the agency questions how politicians elected on “insular mandates” will approach global affairs.

“Will they continue to support the most vulnerable people in the world? How will global efforts to tackle climate change continue in the face of nationalist populism?” the organisation’s executive director Éamonn Meehan writes in his preface to the report.

“The answers to these questions may not be known for some time, yet the indications are that the decisions of UK and US voters will have far-reaching consequences for the world’s poorest people,” Mr Meehan says.


He notes that the UK is one of only eight countries in the world to have reached the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) on assisting the most vulnerable people in the world.

“The US’s overseas aid budget is tiny in percentage terms – just 0.01 per cent of GNI – but, at $22 billion, hugely significant in monetary terms.”

Overseas development

The report also notes that although the State’s overseas development assistance budget increased in monetary terms in 2016, it stands at 0.3 per cent of GNI, “our lowest percentage spend since the turn of the century”.

Mr Meehan says Ireland is recognised as "a global leader in terms of the quality of our overseas assistance", but that there is much to be done to bring us into line with our international spending commitment.

Trócaire, which is the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, says that globally, funding for urgent humanitarian and development assistance is at “crisis point”.

“The UN has appealed for $22.3 billion to respond to humanitarian need in 2017, of which just $5.4 billion has materialised. Of the 29 UN appeals currently seeking funding, just two are more than 50 per cent funded.”

The agency also notes that the number of people living in forced displacement has reached 65 million – a figure higher than at any stage since the end of the second World War, while disasters caused by natural and climatic hazards affected an estimated 89 million people last year.


The Trócaire head also says the hostility of the new US administration towards the Paris Agreement on climate change “must not be allowed to derail it”.

“This historic global agreement remains our promise to future generations, a promise we must keep.”

The annual report also notes the large gap between international policy and “the reality facing women and girls”.

“Globally, levels of gender-based violence are wholly unacceptable and access to justice remains a significant challenge,” it says.

In 2016/17, Trócaire spent €57.1 million on programmes to assist 2.6 million people in some of the poorest places in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

Responding to emergencies accounted for €24.6 million, or almost half its overall spend.