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UN Officials On Blair's Africa Commission

UN Officials On Blair's Africa Commission Will Push For More Assistance To Developing Countries

Senior United Nations officials sitting on the Commission for Africa launched by British Prime Minister Tony Blair will push for "a radical report" focusing on the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) that calls for increased assistance to developing countries, the head of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) said today.

"The Commission will be meeting in London next week to decide on the recommendations it should put to the world," Anna Tibaijuka told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York. "However, the African commissioners are pushing for a radical report that could make the difference if conditions on the continent are to be put right."

The MDGs are a set of eight targets that aim to tackle a host of global ills such as extreme hunger and poverty, gender inequality in education, maternal and infant mortality and others, all by 2015.

The continent had to tend to its own housekeeping, she acknowledged, but would need help, much like the post-World War II Marshall Plan for Europe, to "break out of the vicious circle in which history has squarely placed it."

Having attracted investment which focused mainly on extractive industries and not on infrastructure-building, the vital transport and other infrastructure would not now be present even if important market access was opened, Ms. Tibaijuka said.

She said much of Africa's infrastructure development was suspended after World War I when Germany lost its colonies, including her own country, Tanzania. "After independence, the expected resources never materialized."

Africa could not manage on its own in an international environment that was not supportive, she said.

Illustrating the negative environment, she said some African leaders "are believed to be corrupt, but nobody asks who is corrupting them. They are supposed to have stolen money, but nobody asks who is banking that money."

"A more supportive international environment is needed whereby even if one wished to abuse one's position, the global checks and balances would make it difficult to do so," she added.

Ms. Tibaijuka and the head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), KY Amoako, are two of the nine Africans on the year-old 17-member panel, and participate in their own capacity as African leaders.

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