UK Banned from Using Aid Budget to Help British Virgin Islands as Looters and Escaped Prisoners Run Riot

MOD via AP
MOD via AP

International aid rules mean British territories flattened and left in “anarchy” by Hurricane Irma are ineligible to receive funds from the UK’s foreign aid budget.

While the government has pledged a total of £57 million towards disaster relief on the islands, an unnamed minister told the BBC that the figure could have been higher if criteria enshrined in UK law didn’t bar Britain from tapping into its £13 billion foreign aid budget.

Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands are too wealthy to qualify for aid under Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) rules.

The news emerged as a report this week warned ministers that foreign aid is being granted to countries like China and India, which have space and nuclear programmes and even aid budgets of their own. Both are approved by the OECD, and British taxes have been spent on projects which include initiatives to cut smoking amongst factory workers and the production of “cross-cultural” art films.

British overseas territories in the path of Hurricane Irma were devastated by the storm, which caused law and order to break down, as well as decimating infrastructure on the islands.

The UK has sent a navy ship along with more than 1,000 troops to the region amid reports of looting and violence, along with 50 police officers in an attempt to quell the lawlessness.

Between 100 and 120 prisoners are on the loose in the British Virgin Islands after escaping from a prison which took massive damage from the hurricane.

“The prison was breached, over 100 very serious prisoners escaped,” foreign minister Alan Duncan told the House of Commons, warning that the convicts posed a “serious threat of the complete breakdown of law and order” on the overseas territory.

MPs were told Marines from RFA Mounts Bay were used to “protect the Governor and everything else about law and order” in the wake of the crisis, which Duncan said had affected more than 500,000 British nationals who were in the hurricane’s path.

Speaking on the revelation that Britain is banned from using its own foreign aid budget to assist its territories, Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “It is absolutely ridiculous that we cannot use any of our bloated overseas aid budget to help British overseas territories devastated by the hurricane.

“You couldn’t make it up that an overseas territory doesn’t qualify for overseas aid. Surely the Government will see sense and stop this madness and take control of taxpayers’ money and spend it on our priorities,” he told the Daily Mail.

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