Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s promise to target more aid to the world’s least developed countries will mean more of Australia’s aid is going where it’s needed most, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said Mr Rudd’s promise to provide 0.15 per cent of Australia’s gross national income to least developed countries, made at a UN summit in New York, was welcome.
“This commitment means Australia will be helping the poorest of the poor get basics like enough food for their families, education for their children and access to healthcare,” Mr Hewett said.
“Together with Mr Rudd’s commitment to spend $1.6 billion over five years on improving the health of women and children in developing countries, this promise means that Australia is doing more to help tackle the most urgent problems the world is facing.”
Australia’s contribution will form part of a US $40 billion global health strategy announced by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
“The global health strategy is welcome – it is about time that global leaders shone a spotlight on the fact that women and children are dying unnecessarily every day, and committed to a global health plan,” Mr Hewett said.
“But we now need to ensure that wealthy countries put their money where their mouth is and that this money doesn’t prove to be little more than smoke and mirrors.
“Mr Rudd was right when he told the UN that too often wealthy countries have made promises to poor countries that they have failed to keep. We are pleased he committed Australia to living up to its promises. Other rich countries must also now deliver on the promises they have made,” Mr Hewett said.
“We know that good quality aid can help to transform lives – since 1990 the number of people living in poverty around the world has been halved. Aid has helped 33 million more children go to school in developing countries.
“But almost a billion people around the world still go to sleep hungry each night. In one of Australia’s neighbouring countries, Papua New Guinea, 3.9 million people lack access to safe, clean drinking water. We can change this if governments work together and meet their promises to the world’s poor.
“There are now five years left until the deadline set to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – global goals to halve poverty. The hard work starts today – governments must be accountable for their promises and provide aid that helps the world’s poorest people,” Mr Hewett said.
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