U.Ok. Lawmaker Beneath Hearth for Calling UNICEF’s Free Meals a ‘Political Stunt’
LONDON – Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative UK legislator who chairs the House of Commons, has caused anger by criticizing a UNICEF program that provides free meals to children in the UK for the first time in the organization’s 74 years supposed to be history.
Mr Rees-Mogg accused the United Nations Children’s Agency on Thursday of performing a “political stunt” and urged them to focus their efforts on other areas after UNICEF announced up to 15,000 children in the country, mostly in London To serve meals.
“It is a real scandal that UNICEF should be doing policy in this way when it comes to caring for people in the poorest, most disadvantaged countries in the world, where people are starving, famine and civilian wars,” he said during one Parliament session.
Mr Rees-Mogg said UNICEF “should be ashamed”.
UNICEF, which provides humanitarian and development aid to children in 190 countries, has described the coronavirus pandemic as the most pressing crisis since World War II. In the UK, it was warned that the situation has worsened for many more families since March, in addition to the 2.4 million children who were already food unsafe.
UNICEF announced this week that it has partnered with Sustain, a UK food and agriculture organization, to reach thousands of children, most of them in south London. The children will be given breakfast during the two-week Christmas vacation and mid-term break in February, the organization said, adding that the operation would cost $ 1 million.
Dec. 18, 2020, 8:09 am ET
Zarah Sultana, a Labor lawmaker whose question in parliament led to Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments on UNICEF, was angry at his response.
“It is shameful for children to get hungry,” she said. “It’s not shameful to feed them.”
UNICEF’s director of programs and advocacy in the UK, Anna Kettley, said Thursday that it was the organization’s mission to help the world’s poorest children. She said the UK program is a one-off response to support vulnerable children and families during the pandemic.
“We believe that every child is important and deserves to survive and thrive, no matter where they are born,” she said.
With Britain facing a deeper recession than any other country in Europe or North America, food insecurity was widely publicized by Marcus Rashford, the 23-year-old soccer star who this year helped feed millions of children in the country.
When the nation went down and schools closed in the spring, Mr Rashford launched a campaign to donate food to the 1.5 million children in England who qualify for free school meals. He has received support across the country and thousands of cafes, restaurants, pubs and individuals have since donated food or money to charity.
Twice that year, first in June and again last month, Rashford pressured Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration to extend the free school lunch program during the holidays, even after schools reopened. The latest package, valued at £ 170 million (US $ 230 million), calls for free meals for children over the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.
Most schools in the UK have breakfast clubs, a pre-class period when children who have not had a chance to eat at home are offered porridge, eggs, toast and orange juice. Mr Rashford has said that he has benefited from such free meals.
“I really had no choice but to go to the breakfast club,” he told the New York Times in May.