Over 7,000 veterans of the Commonwealth who served the British Armed Forces will receive two meals a day through UK aid, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt confirmed today.
The programme will be delivered through the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL), a charity which has been supporting those such veterans who served The British Crown for almost 100 years. It will run in more than 30 countries eligible for Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
RCEL was established in 1921 as a charity to provide support to those who served The British Crown during The Great War. Over the last century it has continued to support veterans who served in the British Armed Forces and their widows from Commonwealth Nations prior to their country’s independence. All those supported are resident in their country of origin and living in poverty.
The new Department for International Development (DFID) programme will provide regular cash transfers to Commonwealth veterans and their widows and widowers in more than 30 countries to prevent them from going hungry.
Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt said:
“We owe a tremendous amount to these Commonwealth Veterans. The British public would be shocked to know that those who have served alongside our Armed Forces would be living in such poverty.
“It is absolutely right to make this commitment. I think the British public would approve of us pledging this support because of the sacrifices the Commonwealth Veterans have made and because of the debt of gratitude we owe to them.”
Today’s announcement follows a commitment in June by DFID to design a programme to support pre-independence war veterans.
RCEL Deputy Grand President and former Chief of Defence Staff, Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO, said:
“We owe a great debt to the service men and women of the Commonwealth who served in the British Armed Forces in the Second World War and afterwards prior to their countries’ independence.
“This grant will help the RCEL ensure that these brave men and women are sustained and cared for in their twilight years. As important, it will let them know that they have not been forgotten and their service and sacrifice is remembered.”
Without this support, the 4,500 veterans and 2,500 widows would be unable to secure the equivalent of one-meal-a-day. UK aid will mean that those who served in the British Armed Forces across the Commonwealth pre-independence will not live their later years in poverty.
During the Second World War, an estimated 4.5 million Commonwealth soldiers from the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean fought in the British Army for the Allied Forces. Many more Commonwealth soldiers fought in further conflicts.
Today, around 14,000 thousand veterans are living across the Commonwealth, with 7,000 veterans and their widows in need of support to meet their basic needs.