Food Aid Promise For Commonwealth Veterans

Government says cash will help 7,000 veterans in more than 30 countries to prevent them from going hungry.

The Government has announced a new scheme to help Commonwealth veterans who served in the British Armed Forces and are now facing poverty.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has pledged £11.8 million over the next five years to fund the programme.   

It will provide regular cash transfers to Commonwealth veterans and their widows and widowers in more than 30 countries to prevent them from going hungry.

Caribbean troops training during World War Two
Around 4.5 million Commonwealth soldiers fought in the British Army in the Second World War. (Image: IWM)

An estimated 4.5 million Commonwealth soldiers from the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean fought in the British Army and for the Allied Forces during the Second World War.

Commonwealth soldiers also fought in further conflicts and many of them are now in their 80s and 90s.

Black Commonwealth Veteran
Many Commonwealth veterans living in countries that became independent face poverty.

The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL) was established in 1921 as a charity to provide support to those who served Britain. 

They have supported veterans who are resident in their country of origin and living in poverty.

A former head of the Armed Forces, General Lord Richards, who is also Deputy Grand President of RCEL said this announcement sends a strong message to all veterans and serving personnel.

"We need to be the generation that looks after veterans throughout their lives and I do think that is being understood."

Black Veteran with Commonwealth Ex-Services League sign
Aid to veterans will be delivered through the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League.

DFID says there are around 14,000 veterans living across the Commonwealth, with 7,000 and their widows in need of support to meet their basic needs.

The programme will run in more than 30 countries eligible for Overseas Development Assistance (ODA): Antigua, Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Cameroon, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Pakistan, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.