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British, UN Officials Appeal for Development Aid for Africa - 2004-05-19

A high official at the United Nations (U.N.) said that a British-backed initiative to help Africa overcome decades of underdevelopment could spur the continent to, ?put its house in order.? The official, Anna Tibaijuka of the U.N. Human Settlements Program, spoke at a Nairobi news conference.

United Nations and British officials launched a publicity campaign in Nairobi for the Commission for Africa.

The commission held its first session in London earlier this month. It is an initiative of British Prime Minister Tony Blair aimed at raising more Western support to help Africa conquer the problems of underdevelopment.

Among the commission members is U.N. Undersecretary-General Anna Tibaijuka, who is a native of Tanzania. She said she is optimistic about the Commission for Africa's goal, despite many previous initiatives that have failed to improve living conditions in Africa.

?We are a continent that is left behind,? she said. ?And unless we accept that we shall not be able to change our situation, but on the other hand, the international community has made a number of promises for Africa and a good number of them have not yet been fulfilled. So instead of us saying we are walking away, we are not interested in another commission, it is better to grab the opportunity, in my view, to push our agenda, while we also put our own house in order.?

She highlighted the problem of corruption as one that must be combated jointly by Africans and the industrialized nations.

?Corruption is considered to be one of the main problems facing us,? she added. ?But the international community has a role to play in corruption because you cannot tell African leaders to be non-corrupt, if you are going to bank the money they have stolen.?

The Commission for Africa will present its recommendations next year when Britain assumes the rotating leadership of both the Group of Eight industrial nations and the European Union. Britain plans to make African development a priority during its term at the helm of both organizations.