British overseas territories left devastated by natural disasters like hurricanes could finally get access to aid under rule change plans considered tomorrow.
Residents of the British Virgin Islands saw their homes destroyed when Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean last month.
But they were banned from accessing the UK’s multi-billion pound aid budget because they were deemed too wealthy.
Furious International Development Secretary Priti Patel fired off a letter to demand a rule change from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
And the body will meet in Paris tomorrow to consider changing their rules to allow these communities to get help in the future.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, pictured speaking to Royal Marines on the British Virgin islands after Hurricane Irma last month. British minsters have been pressing the OECD to change aid rules so British overseas territories can access UK aid when they are devastated by hurricanes
The international body is considering allowing middle-income countries to re-register for aid if they suffer an unexpected economic decline, according to the BBC.
Another option that will be discussed would be to introduce an ’emergency waiver’ so they can access the funds.
This would allow a country to be included on the list of eligible official development assistance (ODA) recipients for a short period after a crisis.
Downing Street has made it clear that Theresa May is ‘frustrated’ with the OECD rules which exclude British overseas territories like Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos islands and the British Virgin Islands from receiving money from the aid pot.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said Whitehall was working furiously to get the rules changed.
Speaking after sending her letter last month, Ms Patel asked the committee ‘as a matter of urgency to develop options to ensure the aid rules reflect the needs of those impacted by natural disasters’.
The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, talks to residents on the British Virgin Islands after Irma hit the Caribbean
She added: ‘We believe that the international rules should take into account the vulnerabilities of small island states.
‘These rules were first established over 40 years ago. The world has changed dramatically since then, and we will work constructively with international partners to ensure the rules remain relevant and up to date.’
The UK has pledged £57million towards disaster relief and the public has helped to raise around £1.3million.
Boris Johnson visited Britain’s overseas territories after Hurricane Irma wreaked devastation on them.
Speaking on his visit, the Foreign Secretary said the hurricane was ‘absolutely catastrophic’ and that anybody with an ‘ounce of compassion’ would want to see government spending to ‘get these people on their feet’.
‘We are looking now across Whitehall at ways we can make sure that our aid budget is used in that way,’ he said.
‘Priti Patel, all my colleagues are looking at how we can do that.’