Responding to reports that Australia has once again fallen in the global aid rankings released annually by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
“The Australian Government’s funding cuts have seen aid fall to its lowest levels in our country’s history in relation to our economy.
“The OECD’s rankings just released have seen Australia fall again, this time from 16 to 17 out of the 28 wealthy OECD nations that give aid.
“For Oxfam, these statistics could not come at a worse time. Agencies are struggling to cope with multiple humanitarian crises around the globe and simultaneously plug holes left by cuts to long-term aid programs.
“It means less money is being spent on tackling poverty and growing inequality when and where it is needed most.
“Right now, more than 20 million people in four countries – South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen – are at risk of starvation, with the UN calling for strong and urgent action to avert catastrophe.
“And, we are appealing for funds to assist people who have faced more than six years of conflict in Syria. More than 11 million people have been forced to flee their homes, with more than 5 million fleeing to neighbouring countries including Jordan and Lebanon. Almost three-quarters of these refugees are women and children.
“At the same time, agencies are trying to fill the gaps made by government cuts to long-term aid programs – programs that we know transform people’s lives.
“Oxfam’s work on life-saving water and sanitation programs has been affected, and government support for programs across sub-Saharan Africa – the poorest region on the planet – has been drastically scaled back.
“In the long-term, it is these sorts of programs that make communities more resilient and lessen the impact of humanitarian crises.
“Australia’s place at 17 in the OECD rankings means we are missing in action on the world stage, giving proportionately less than countries with a lower GDP than our own – including Belgium and Ireland.
“It is time for the Australian Government to take its own promises on aid seriously.
“That means not only keeping its commitment to keep aid in line with CPI in the coming Federal Budget – but taking steps to reach its own Sustainable Development Goal promise to allocate 70 cents in every $100 of national income towards aid and humanitarian assistance by 2030.”
For interviews with Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke or more information, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or firstname.lastname@example.org