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Tsunami should not divert attention from poverty

Tsunami crisis should not divert attention from global poverty

While today’s announcement of an aid package for tsunami victims is being welcomed, aid agencies are urging the Government not to lose sight of the other crisis facing the world – that of poverty.

It’s estimated that around 30,000 people die every day due to extreme poverty.

Council for International Development Executive Director Rae Julian says that despite the Government’s generous efforts after the tsunami, the New Zealand government does not give long-term development aid generously by international standards.

“In fact, in 2003 we spent only 0.23 percent of our national income on overseas development aid – that’s near the bottom of the OECD,” Ms Julian says. “Even with the additional money for the tsunami, we will still be spending only about 0.26 percent, and will still remain in the bottom half of OECD.”

She says this is despite promises made by the Government as part of the UN Millennium Declaration to commit New Zealand to do its part to achieve a series of quantitative goals to reduce global poverty.

Global poverty is the focus of a report from the United Nations Millennium Project released today.

The report, headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, seeks to map out a plan of how to achieve the goals, which include halving the estimated 1.2 billion people in extreme poverty.

The Sachs report is calling on developed countries, including New Zealand, to be more generous in their assistance to the developed world. It urges developed countries to reach the UN target of giving 0.7 percent of their income in aid by 2015.

“There is no doubt that individual New Zealanders are extremely generous when it comes to helping our international neighbours in need. Let’s hope that this will lead to a long-term increase in our government’s aid to help people overseas to escape from poverty.”

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