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Friday, February 24, 2017
Geldof joins church leaders in appeal to government over aid
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¬†Rock star Sir Bob Geldof, with the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth, Dr Kenneth Stevenson, representing a group of church leaders, and more than 30 MPs, gathered yesterday at Westminster, to call on the Government to honour a promise to give 0.7% of national income to overseas aid. Speaking at what he called a "crisis meeting" as the government discuss their budget allocation for the next three years Sir Bob said: "I'm sick of sitting with Tony and Gordon and hearing of grandiose schemes and guff about African scars. If they really want to get rid of the scars and give the African Commission real credibility then they must increase aid to 0.7%" In an impassioned speech, Sir Bob showed pictures of malnourished children. He said: "their poverty is our impoverishment" and called on the Chancellor to "put our money where your mouth is Gordon." Julia Drown, Labour MP for South Swindon, one of the MPs who has been leading the campaign for 0.7% in the House of Commons said: "Taking action today could save millions of lives. 218 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for 0.7% because their constituents are demanding aid increases." Frances O'Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the TUC said her members wanted to see an increase. She said: "Seven million trade unionists back this campaign. Labour says they're providing twice as much as Margaret Thatcher did, but it doesn't say much to say we've doubled the size of the heart of Margaret Thatcher." Overseas aid has increased steadily since the government came to power in 1997. However, this amounts to only 0.34% of UK Gross National Income ? less than half of the pledged amount of 0.7%. So far, five countries give 0.7% of GNI in aid. These are Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg and Denmark. Five countries have given a date by which they will reach 0.7%. These are France, Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Finland. The UK government reserved £3.8 billion for the Iraq war. For the amount the UK set aside for the war, it could have doubled the UK aid budget and reached the UN target for how much aid rich countries need to provide to fight world poverty. Government figures show that each £100m of UK aid could put an additional two million children in school or prevent 250,000 child deaths in the third world. Increasing aid to the UN target of 0.7% of gross national income could provide 5.8 million wells, or 860,000 schools in the third world each year, or permanently lift 2.7 million people in the third world out of poverty. 1200 children under five die each hour, most from preventable disease. A child dies every 15 seconds from lack of safe water and sanitation. One woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth every minute.
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