Oxfam calls for an 'aid bail out' after signs that aid levels are to be slashed

By mborum

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WASHINGTON, DC ? As finance ministers meet at the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings to discuss the global financial crisis, international agency Oxfam said governments in Italy, France and Spain are about to cut or freeze their aid budgets. Oxfam says this is unacceptable and calls for an urgent aid bail out for developing countries.

The agency warned that if donors were to slash their aid budgets by 25% as they did in the global recession of the nineties, it would mean cuts of more than US$25 billion. This could keep more than 700 million people from accessing vital healthcare services.

?These are deeply concerning signals from rich country leaders. This is exactly the opposite of what the developing world needs to hear right now. Donors must come up with an aid bail out which delivers on their promises to boost lending,? said Marita Hutjes, spokesperson for Oxfam International. ?And the next president ? to be elected in four weeks—should honor the promises made by the United States to support anti-poverty and health programs in poor countries.

?The same level of urgency used to bail out the financial sector must be shown for the millions now suffering from the fuel and food crises,? said Hutjes.

Global aid flows fell for the second consecutive year in 2007, dropping from US$104.4 billion in 2006 to US$103.7 billion. This means that donors are way off the mark to reach the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid. The current figure represents just 0.28% GNI of all donors.

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