UK territories devastated by Hurricane Irma cannot tap into the £13billion foreign aid budget because they are ‘too wealthy’.
International rules mean Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos islands cannot get handouts despite being flattened by the storm.
Set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the rules are blamed for hampering the relief effort in the islands.
India and China, which have booming economies, would be ‘poor’ enough to receive help, however. North Korea is also on the OECD’s approved list.
Ruins: The scale of the hurricane's power can be seen in this aerial picture of a town in the British Virgin Islands
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited the islands yesterday to meet survivors and survey the damage. He flew out after French president Emmanuel Macron and the Dutch king visited their citizens in the region
British relief efforts have been criticised as ‘absolutely pathetic’ in comparison with those of France and the Netherlands. Mr Johnson promised more cash
The Government has committed £57million for disaster relief for islands hit by Hurricane Irma – but this must be found from separate funds and Whitehall departments.
One minister said the islands could have received five times as much cash had they been allowed official foreign aid. Downing Street said Theresa May was frustrated by the international rules.
Tory 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.’
A ministerial source said: ‘It is totally mad. We have a £13billion development budget, but the definition of how we can spend it is ridiculous.
‘The rules do not allow development spending on these islands because they are not considered poor enough. Well, they bloody well are now.
‘It is completely immoral and a lot of people are saying we should just ignore the rules and spend the money.’
The three British overseas territories were in the path of the monster hurricane, which claimed scores of lives and left thousands homeless.
Hurricane Irma left Anguilla devastated, with swathes of the island left uninhabitable
Images, provided by the NASA Earth Observatory, shows Caribbean islands looking a vibrant green (top), while a second - captured after the hurricane (bottom) - shows the territory is coloured