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'Rich countries not concerned about the poor'

Oxfam's figures shows that rich countries do not abide by the promises made to substantially increase assistance to developing countries.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Paris
UPDATED ON APR 05, 2008 02:49 AM IST

British charity Oxfam released on Friday figures on aid spending showing that rich countries had broken promises made to substantially increase assistance to developing countries.

The figures showed that in many of the Group of Eight (G8) richest nations, aid spending as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) had dropped significantly.

Oxfam pointed out that in 1970 rich countries promised to set aside 0.7 per cent of their income as aid. It also referred to the 2005 agreement at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in Scotland, to substantially increase development aid to Africa.

But the overall figure for European Union aid spending was down 5.8 per cent from 2006 to 2007, with just 0.4 per cent of the EU’s total GNI going to aid spending.

For the rich countries of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the figures were down 8.4 per cent to 0.28 per cent.

“These figures don’t lie,” said Jeremy Hobbs of Oxfam International. “They show a clear lack of leadership on bringing much needed funding to poor countries.

“This failure to deliver on aid promises means millions of children denied a place in school, and mothers and children condemned to die,” he added.

“We must see emergency plans announced to rapidly increase aid at the G8 this summer.”

Among the most striking figures were those of Britain, which hosted the Gleneagles summit at which the developed economies agreed to stimulate the developing economies of Africa with substantial extra resources.

British aid spending between 2006 and 2007 dropped by 29.1 per cent to 0.36 per cent of GNI. In France, spending over the same period dropped 15.9 per cent to 0.39 per cent of its GNI. Japan’s aid spending over the same period dropped by 30.1 per cent, to just 0.17 per cent of GNI.

“The leaders of rich countries such as UK, France and Japan must tell us why they are turning their backs on the poorest,” said Hobbs.

“It is disappointing that France, which will take the presidency of the EU in June is amongst the worst offenders.”

He called on French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders to announce a rapid increase in aid budgets to “salvage their crumbling credibility in the eyes of the world”, he added.

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