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"Here, Africa, Have a Band-Aid"

From the BBC:

"US President George W Bush is set to pledge $674m in aid for Africa as part of a joint initiative with visiting UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Blair is in Washington to press for the president's support for his plans to get Africa back on its feet. They propose to write off the debt of 32 countries, provided they tackle corruption and enact economic reforms.

Mr Bush has already rejected several key parts of Britain's relief plan - but Mr Blair insisted there had been "significant progress" on a deal.

The US has also refused to agree to give 0.7% of its national income in international aid, a long-term commitment Mr Blair wants from all G8 countries...

Mr Blair recognises that he will not get US support for crucial parts of his three-pronged attack on poverty in Africa - a package of debt relief, increased aid and fairer trade that is the centrepiece of his chairmanship of the G8.

Aid groups criticised Mr Bush's cash pledge as a mere "drop in the ocean".

Jonathan Glennie of Christian Aid said: "If this is President Bush's only response to the crisis in Africa, we think he cannot be serious about alleviating poverty."

And from 20/20 democrats:

"Looks like Bush is releasing $674 million in food aid to Africa. Unquestionably a good thing. But (you knew there would be a but), this is the typical of Bush Band-Aid-ism. Forget investing in the long-term self-sufficiency of the African continent - instead, let's send some food.

World leaders have called for developed countries to provide 0.7% of GDP in development assistance to struggling countries. Right now, we're somewhere between 0.1% and 0.2%.

For those keeping score at home, $674 million is approximately .00006 of our GDP. So Bush's announcement brings us to somewhere between 0.10006% and 0.20006%.

Oh wait, Bush is announcing that he's just releasing money that was already budgeted by Congress. Looks like we're back to between 0.1% and 0.2%."
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