A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
The action plan put forward today by the European Commission for the EU to catch up on its commitments towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is strongly welcomed by Oxfam International.
Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs must now keep up pressure on member states to give the go-ahead to his bold proposal at the EU summit in June, if Europe is to rebuild trust with poor countries, warns the development agency. Five years to the 2015 deadline, world leaders will be meeting in September to review progress towards the eight MDGs, the first truly global effort to eradicate poverty.
For the first time, the EC is calling on EU governments to set up national legislation to reach aid targets and review them at heads of state level. The Commission has also taken a new step in recognizing that developing countries miss out big amounts of money every year in lost income from offshore assets held in tax havens and wants multinational companies to be held to account for their activities. Moreover, Piebalgs is pushing for the EU to find new sources beyond aid budgets to finance development.
Next stop: June
Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International’s EU office, said:
“Thumbs up for Commissioner Piebalgs. Putting forward for the first time his roadmap for Europe’s development policy for the next five years, he’s hit the right note. He's calling for serious action to get EU aid commitments back on track, he's supportive of new sources to raise money for development, and he's providing new policies to fight tax evasion."
“He’s pushed his ticket as far as he can but his next stop will be in June, when EU leaders must give the green light to his ambitious proposal to place Europe back on the right road to rescue the Millennium Development Goals and salvage its own international reputation”.
Health and education at stake
“Without a European MDG rescue package this year which includes a new credible plan to meet aid commitments, citizens in the poorest countries won’t get the most basic education and health care, and EU leaders will not be able to hold their head high on the global stage.”
“Whilst some countries like the UK, Spain and Belgium are taking serious steps towards meeting their aid promises, others are really letting the side down. Italy’s aid spending plunged last year by a massive 31 per cent, Ireland’s by 19 per cent and Germany's by 12 per cent.”
Notes to editors
A Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) of around 0.05% would yield more than €400 billion globally every year at no cost to ordinary taxpayer to pay for public services at home and abroad and fight climate change.
Why is an “MDG rescue package” urgently needed?
In 2000, 189 world leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the strongest worldwide commitment to fight poverty and hunger. Five years to the 2015 deadline and despite some real progress, many of the most important goals are in danger of being missed. While there has been significant progress in areas such as child mortality and education, in others such as maternal health, improvement has been limited. Where progress has been made, it has been uneven and mainly driven by rapid growth in giant countries of Asia, while Sub Saharan Africa has been left behind.
As part of this pledge, the EU’s 27 member states are to dedicate 0.7 per cent of their national income to development aid by 2015. To reach its 2010 interim 0.56% target of national income, EU aid would need to be increased from the current €49billion to €70bn this year alone.
- On current trends 56 million children will not see the inside of a classroom by 2015.
- To meet the goal of universal primary education by 2015, a financing gap of nearly €12bn a year must be met – just a fraction of the €50bn spent bailing out one German bank in 2008.
- An estimated €14bn is spent on chewing gum each year worldwide – seven times the amount spent on aid for basic education, which stands at €1.9bn.
- Poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses kill more than 25,000 children every day around the world. That is equivalent to: 1 child dying every 3.5 seconds / A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every 1.5 weeks.
- Cutting the number of child deaths globally is affordable – just €18.5 - €22bn year would reduce the number of deaths by two-thirds by 2015.
- Each year 536,000 women die as a result of complications from child bearing: more than one a minute.
- If OECD governments had provided all the aid they committed to in 1970, extreme poverty at 2005 levels could now have been ended 21 times over.
- The OECD projects that in 2010, overseas aid will stand at €15 less than promised. This money could pay for every child to go to school, and could save the lives of 2 million of the poorest mothers and children.