“Show your hand”: Oxfam challenges tsunami donors to deliver promised money

Published: 1 November 2005

International agency Oxfam has welcomed confirmation from Germany that its US$680 million donation to the tsunami relief appeal is “new” money that has not been diverted from other crises.

Oxfam is concerned that other donors, including the US (US$350m), Japan (US$500m), the UK (US$96m), the World Bank (US$250m), Norway (US$181m), the EU (US$529m) and Australia (US$815m), may instead be “borrowing” from aid pledged to other crises including to the Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, or from money otherwise ear-marked from development budgets.
In a new report published today ( The Asian Tsunami: The challenge after the Jakarta summit), Oxfam calls on donors to give guarantees at the UN donors’ conference in Geneva tomorrow (Tuesday 11 January) that their US$4bn worth of promises to help countries rebuild after the tsunami disaster are made up of new money.
Phil Bloomer, Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy said: “It is crunch time for the rich world to make sure that the enormous goodwill they’ve shown is turned into hard cash that reaches the people who need it most. This is not time for empty rhetoric. The eyes of the world are on this meeting and we want guarantees that the aid will not be diverted from other disasters and other suffering people.”
In the report, The Asian Tsunami: The challenge after the Jakarta summit, Oxfam notes that donor pledges tend to fall short in the actual delivery – for example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in Central America, less than a third of the US$9bn promised materialized, while in Afghanistan in 2004, the US delivered only US$200m of the US$450m it promised.
Donors must not forget the 14 other humanitarian crises going on in the world, Oxfam says. They must make a ‘double humanitarian pledge’ – firstly to the victims of the tsunami by delivering upfront the US$1bn requested by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Jakarta summit last week, and secondly to the rest of the world by meeting the UN’s 2005 Humanitarian Appeal for US$1.7bn. In 2004 only 63 per cent of the UN’s Humanitarian Appeal was met.
The international community should also agree a moratorium on debt repayments to affected countries and the removal of trade tariffs on imports of textiles and clothing to the EU and US, especially from Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Bloomer says: “Debt relief and trade reform could both help enormously the countries affected by this unprecedented disaster. The Paris Club of donor countries should agree an immediate debt moratorium at its meeting on 12 January and explore the possibility of debt relief and even cancellation. The EU and the US should remove tariffs on textile and clothing imports so that the countries affected have a chance to help themselves by earning money from trade.”
In 2003, Sri Lanka paid US$244m in duties on textiles and clothing to the USA and US$77m to the EU. In the same year, Indonesia paid US$426m and US$180m respectively. The total duties on textiles and clothing imports paid to rich countries in 2003 of nearly US$1bn could well exceed the aid given for tsunami relief.
Finally, the international community should harness the momentum of the tsunami response to make poverty history in 2005, with a package for poor countries including more and better aid, deeper debt relief and trade reform.
Bloomer: “The response to this disaster shows how capable the international community is when moved. Thirty thousand people die every day from poverty and disease around the world. The concerted aid effort generated by the tsunami demonstrates just how unnecessary these deaths are. With attention focused on the needs of the developing world, and a series of meetings scheduled in the international calendar, 2005 is the year in which we can, and must, make poverty history.”


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