A charity helping young people in war zones has accused the UK government of putting thousands of children at risk from human traffickers by breaking a funding promise.
War Child raised £500,000 for people whose lives have been torn apart by conflict, and the government promised to match the amount collected.
However, the government has delayed its contribution, while pointing out it is postponed and not cancelled.
But Oscar-nominated actress and War Child patron Carey Mulligan said thousands of children would be trafficked because of the funding delay.
“With this campaign, we have been very clear that this is a time-sensitive project. It would be an utter tragedy if one child was trafficked as a result of this decision but we know that it will be thousands more, and that this was a time-sensitive project to protect children from the very real danger of being trafficked,” she said.
"People gave money at a time that was extremely difficult and that was done with this promise that their money would go further.
"We feel that a promise has been broken. We upheld our side of this deal and the government are going back on their word."
War Child raised the money through an auction, with 87 high-profile figures from the arts and entertainment industries donating to the cause.
The figure was to be doubled under the Government's UK Aid Match scheme but the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has delayed the payment until next year.
Mulligan was among the donors. Lots included a private video call with musician Louis Tomlinson, a once-in-a-lifetime stunt experience with actress Vanessa Kirby and the Mission Impossible stunt team, and a private concert by singer Marcus Mumford.
War Child said it would use the money in countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
An FCDO representative said: “The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid.
“We will still spend more than £10 billion ($14.12bn) this year to improve global health, fight poverty and tackle climate change.
“We have protected War Child’s UK Aid Match funding because we value their work and the results they will deliver. All UK Aid Match commitments will be protected, as set out in the foreign secretary’s written ministerial statement. In some cases there will be a delay in releasing the guaranteed funding.”