Saturday, January 08, 2005

[Global Poverty] Let human compassion challenge human poverty: Britain

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has unveiled a Marshall plan for Africa, calling on the international community to harness the "passion of compassion" generated by the Asian tsunami disaster to make 2005 a breakthrough year for the world's poorest continent.

"While 2004 was a year which ended in the horror of a natural disaster, 2005 is a year that can start with the hope of human progress," Mr Brown said in a lecture in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday which conjured up the spirit of the postwar American plan to rebuild the shattered economies of Western Europe.

At his monthly press conference, British Prime Minister Tony Blair also pointed out that, "The tragedy of the tsunami was through the force of nature. The tragedy of Africa is through the failure of man. There is the equivalent of a man-made, preventable tsunami every week in Africa."

As part of an action plan to uproot poverty, Britain is proposing:

- That debts owed by the world's poorest countries, including Sri Lanka, to institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should be written off;

- That international aid be doubled to $A130 billion a year.

- That better trade terms help poor countries to build up their export capacity while rich countries dismantle their protectionist barriers.

The parallel appeals for radical action to end world poverty, which will face serious resistance and counter-plans among Britain's main allies, mark the start of Britain's year-long presidency of the G8 group of industrial states and, from July, of the European Union.

In support of UK’s EU and G8 presidencies this year, "Make Poverty History" campaign ( launched in the UK in collaboration with over 100 international aid agencies, is going to take the opportunity to promote the goal.

Sources: The Guardian and Christian Today