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Calls for increased international aid

Morrison calls for increased international aid following "depressing" report

21st September, 2006

Radio and TV presenter and member of the United Nations Face to Face Campaign, Stacey Morrison is calling for the Government to increase the level of its overseas aid following a new report that says the poorest people in the world are worse off now than they were 15 years ago.

In launching the Reality of Aid report, Ms Morrison says the global situation is particularly depressing.

"The US-led War on Terror has resulted in western powers using aid money for their own strategic purposes rather than for what it seems is any genuine attempt to help poverty- stricken people."

The report says that increased aid, urgently needed for fundamental human rights as well as other basic needs, has been siphoned off for almost limitless amounts of human, financial and military resources to prevent further terrorist attacks.

It says that the War on Terror has been used to justify practices that run contrary to international human rights commitments.

"Recently Bob Geldof stirred up the media, the public and a few MPs when he was here recently by criticizing our government's aid effort. Many of us were rightly indignant. Who is Bob to call New Zealand's official aid effort pathetic? His own backyard is hardly a shining example," says Ms Morrison.

"After all, according to this report, the UK spent 200-million pounds in Iraq in 2003. This is money that's almost certainly been diverted from aid to low income countries. So Bob Geldof could really look at his own government, and the diversion tactics they're employing," she says.

"But on the other hand, is New Zealand really as responsible a global citizen as we think we are?"

"At a mere 0.27 percent of our income going to aid, New Zealand is way off target to achieve our promise to give 0.7 percent of our gross national income to overseas aid by 2015."

"However, our aid is effective because it's based firmly on humanitarian goals - reducing poverty, providing education and health and long term sustainability. Unlike other parts of the world - it's not based on security or other forms of self interest."

"But can't take a lead as world leaders by not only giving good quality aid but by also sticking to our promises and setting a timetable to make sure we meet that global target of 0.7 percent by 2015?"

"It's a credit to our Government that we haven't followed the US and Britain and put our soldiers into combat in places like Iraq. It seems extraordinary that this government is prepared to follow an independent foreign affairs course, yet drags its heels over this one last thing - the level of aid."

"That would be a way that a small country like New Zealand could take a lead internationally. That would help us continue to "punch above our weight" on the international stage.

"A Maori proverb that I feel relates to our country is Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. Although it is small, it is precious. Could New Zealand be not only small, not only precious, but powerful in the most significant of ways?"

ENDS


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