Accessibility links

Britain Hopes Tsunami Disaster Does Not Deflect Aid for Africa

  • Michael Drudge

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the world should not let its focus on assisting Asian countries hit by last week's tsunami divert attention from the need to fight poverty and disease in Africa. Mr. Blair spoke at a London news conference.

Mr. Blair says that while an uncontrollable force of nature caused the deadly tsunami disaster, many lives in Africa could be saved if the world community would help.

"There are terrible things happening in our world every day," he said. "When we talk about Africa, that is a preventable disaster. Thousands of children die needlessly in Africa every day. Four million people have died in the last five years in the Congo through famine, and conflict and disease. Four million. We have to redouble our efforts to do what we can to help, not just the victims of the force of nature, but also the victims of the failure of man."

Mr. Blair has put Africa high on his agenda during Britain's current term as president of the Group of Eight industrial nations, which will culminate in a summit in Scotland in July.

As Mr. Blair spoke in London, his finance minister, Gordon Brown, delivered a major policy address in Edinburgh on ways to alleviate poverty in developing countries.

Mr. Brown renewed his call for a debt payment moratorium for countries hit by the tsunami on December 26.

He also said the world's major powers should help attack the underlying causes of poverty in the developing world. He proposes a modern-day Marshall Plan similar to the U.S. program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II.

The Brown proposal includes three main points: writing off debts of the most impoverished countries; a new round of trade negotiations to benefit poor nations; and an investment fund to provide $50 billion a year to developing countries.