Brexit could put lives of vulnerable at risk due to less charity funding: report

September 27, 2016 8:06 PM EDT

A union flag is displayed on a house at Jaywick near Clacton-on-Sea, a town in eastern England, where 70 percent of people voted on June 23, 2016 to leave the European Union, Britain August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

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By Lin Taylor

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Efforts to protect millions of people fleeing violence and rights abuses could be jeopardized if Britain's exit from the European Union triggers a decline in funding for charities, a move many expect, a report on Wednesday showed.

More than three months after Britons voted to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May's government has given little away about its Brexit plans.

The EU is the world's largest humanitarian aid donor. The 'Britain Stronger in Europe' campaign said 249 British charities received 217 million pounds ($282 million) from the EU in 2014.

"The EU funds a lot of charitable and humanitarian work. Once we leave the EU, will UK charities get the benefit of that? The answer is: probably not," said Mark Mansell, a partner at London legal firm Allen & Overy LLP, which published the report with TrustLaw, a pro bono legal service run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

When Britain formally leaves the bloc, any overseas aid and development work that had been funded by the EU is unlikely to be subsidized by the British government, Mansell said.

He said charities should examine their source of funding, and consider restructuring the organization if necessary.

UK-based development charities have voiced concerns since the Brexit vote on June 23 about the impact of the sharp falls in the value of the pound and expected losses in EU funding for charities.

A report by the Overseas Development Institute think-tank estimated the loss in value of the pound will cost developing countries $3.8 billion.

"At the moment, no-one know what's going to happen. It's being aware and taking this time to think and plan, rather than keeping fingers and toes crossed and hoping that everything works out OK in the end," Mansell said.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, and climate change. Visit to see more stories)

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