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Aid Agencies Launch Petition Over Govt. Aid Effort

INTERNATIONAL AID AGENCIES LAUNCH PETITION OVER GOVERNMENT AID EFFORT

Many of New Zealand’s major aid agencies have joined together to launch a petition calling on the Government to honour its commitment to the world’s poorer countries.

Council for International Development Executive Director, Rae Julian says that while the Government has been quick to aid Tsunami victims, it has been unwilling to do its share of providing long term development aid.

The petition, organised under the umbrella of the Council for International Development, is in response to what aid agencies say is a potentially embarrassing failure on the part of the New Zealand Government to uphold its United Nations commitment to provide adequate funding to combat poverty.

Rae Julian says that the Government’s efforts to help victims of the Asian Tsunami are commendable but aid agencies question why the Government has for years been dragging its heels over other international aid issues – particularly global poverty.

New Zealand is one of the least generous countries in the developed world when it comes to giving official long-term help to developing countries.

“In 2003, New Zealand gave just 0.23 percent of its income to overseas aid whereas the average OECD aid budget was 0.41 percent. The current figure is likely to be around 0.26 percent but that is due to a one-off response to the tsunami. That momentum needs to be maintained over succeeding years in order to fulfil our international obligations,” says Ms Julian.

The petition is calling on the Government to commit to a timetable to increase its spending on aid to 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015 in line with its earlier promises to help reduce global poverty.

“Back in September 2000 our Prime Minister Helen Clark was one of many world leaders who committed their nations to the Millennium Declaration. As part of that, a series of specific goals was agreed to. These included halving the estimated 1.2 billion people – one person in every five – living on less than US$1 a day.”

“But since then our Government has not done enough towards achieving those goals.”

New Zealand, Japan and Australia are the only three donor countries that have not followed through on their leaders’ words with firm commitments to increase aid.

“Clearly New Zealanders have shown a great deal of compassion and generosity to people in need following the Tsunami. We now ask them to sign the petition calling on the Government to do its share to help meet long-term development needs.”

“After all, in the next week almost as many people will die of poverty and from preventable illnesses such as malaria and water-borne diseases, as died in the Tsunami.”

ENDS

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