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POOR ARE PAYING THE PRICE
OF RICH COUNTRIES' FAILURE

A new report from international agency Oxfam today reveals that 45 million more children will die needlessly by 2015, because rich countries are failing to provide the necessary resources they promised to overcome poverty.

The report, Paying the Price, finds that rich countries' aid budgets are half what they were in 1960 and poor countries are paying back a staggering $100 million a day in debt repayments. Oxfam also calculates that 97 million more children will be out of school by 2015 unless urgent action is taken.

Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam's Executive Director, said:
"The world has never been wealthier, yet rich nations are giving less and less. Across the globe, millions of people are being denied the most basic human needs - clean water, food, health care and education. People are dying while leaders delay debt relief and aid."

Oxfam is calling on the leaders of G8 countries - Germany, France, Italy, Japan, UK, US and Canada - to make history in 2005 by cancelling poor countries' debt and increasing aid, alongside action to make trade fair.

Paying the Price comes on the eve of the launch of a global call to action against poverty involving organizations and high-profile figures around the world mobilizing to demand an end to poverty. It warns that unless aid is increased by at least $50 billion now and debts are cancelled, the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals will not be met.

In 1970 rich countries agreed to spend just 0.7 percent of their incomes on aid. Thirty-four years later, none of the G8 members have reached this target and many have not even set a timetable.

In addition, only 40 percent of the money counted officially as aid actually reaches the poorest countries, and when it does it is often seriously delayed. For example, 20 percent of the European Union's aid arrives at least a year late and 92 percent of Italian aid is spent on Italian goods and services.

At only 0.14 percent of national income, the US spending on foreign aid in 2003 was one-tenth of what it spent on Iraq. The US won't reach the aid target needed to halve world poverty until 2040. Germany won't reach the target until 2087 while Japan is decreasing its aid commitments.

Oxfam's Hobbs added:
"The scandal must end. Aid can get millions of children into school, save millions of mothers from dying in child birth and lift even more out of poverty but rich countries are failing the poor. This year Zambia will spend twice as much on repaying its debts than it will on educating its children.

"Unless world leaders act now to deliver a historic breakthrough on poverty, next year will end in shameful failure."

Written by: Oxfam International

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