Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Missing: 75 billion for the world’s poor" say campaigners

Source: Concord press release, 22 May 2008

European governments’ aid efforts are continuing to fail the poor to the tune of 75 billion euros, a new report by NGOs campaigners across Europe reveals.

"No Time to Waste", a report published today by CONCORD, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs whose members represent over 1600 NGOs supported by millions of citizens across Europe, reveals that on current trends the European Union (EU) will have given 75 billion less in aid by 2010 than it promised, threatening progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals set for 2015. If the recent record of slow progress continues, Europe will find it harder to meet its target with every year that passes.

"A hundred thousand estimated dead in Burma, food prices rocketing and a woman dying every minute in pregnancy or childbirth. Now, more than ever, European governments must deliver the aid they promised to the world’s poor" says Justin Kilcullen, President of CONCORD.

The official statistics, released by the OECD in April, showed that European aid fell sharply in 2007, with Belgium, France and the UK recording falls of 10-30%. According to the OECD: "most donors are not on track to meet their stated commitments to scale up aid and will need to make unprecedented increases to meet the targets they have set."

CONCORD’s report has found that European governments continue to "inflate" their aid statistics with debt relief and refugee costs. The report finds that the 15 older Member States provided only 0.33% of their gross national income as genuine aid in 2007 – continuing to miss the target set for 2006 of 0.39% of GNI.

Each year of slow progress means billions less in aid for the world’s poorest people: "Broken promises cost lives. If you live in Senegal where one in eight children dies before reaching his or her fifth birthday, aid means services and services mean the difference between life and death," said Moussa Faye, Chief Executive of ActionAid Senegal.

The report says the EU must also roll up its sleeves on the quality of its aid, making it accountable and transparent. The EU has committed to make aid work better by making it more predictable, better coordinated, and aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s’ empowerment, but NGOs are concerned that these targets are not being met and that more ambitious commitments are needed.

2008 is a crucial year for aid, testing the credibility of European governments. At the High Level Ministerial Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana this coming September, the EU will review its progress against crucial commitments made in 2005 in Paris. "Europe has a responsibility to take the lead at this crucial event by delivering more and better aid" says Marivic Raquiza of GCAP South-East, North and Central Asia (GCAP-SENCA).

European NGOs join the OECD and the European Commission in calling on European governments to honour their promises and commit to clear, measurable, binding timetables setting out the year-on-year aid increases in aid that are necessary for the MDGs to be met.

For more information contact Jasmine Burnley

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