Chancellor to harness tsunami energy for Africa
Chancellor Gordon Brown has addressed fears that Asian tsunami disaster relief may divert attention from Africa, and said he wants to harness worldwide horror over Asia's tsunami victims to drive forward the agenda for helping the African continent.
In a long-planned speech in Scotland made to an audience of more than 200 people including aid workers, Mr Brown has restated his goals for doubling aid and eliminating the poorest nations' debt.
During the speech Mr Brown reiterated what he said recently in a lecture organised by Catholic Aid agency Cafod, that this year in which Britain holds the EU and G8 presidencies, offered a "once-in-a-generation" chance to eradicate global poverty.
Using the language employed by the new campaign "Make Poverty History" which involves many churches and Christian agencies, the Chancellor said he wanted a "Marshall Plan" for Africa, like that which rebuilt post-war Europe.
The chancellor urged rich nations to deliver full debt relief, and urged that in addition to donations there should be an international financial mechanism to lever in additional money from the international capital markets.
Gordon Brown has already urged the suspension of debt service payments of countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
The challenge that faced the world was to provide enough aid to help the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami tragedy and to tackle ongoing poverty in Africa and developing parts of the world, he said.
"The true test of the international community will be how we can fund and assist both the immediate day-to-day emergency services needs but also the long-term reconstruction of these countries," he said.
"We must ensure that countries affected by the tsunami are not prevented from paying for essential reconstruction because they are having to fund the servicing of their debts."
The chancellor's goals for the UK's EU and G8 presidencies include doubling aid from donor countries as well as eliminating debt owed by the poorest nations.
Earlier this week Mr Brown agreed there was a danger efforts to tackle the aftermath of the tsunami disaster might absorb resources that were previously bound for Africa.
"We have got to release the funds that are necessary - after all 30,000 children are dying every day unnecessarily each day [in Africa] because of hunger, because of a failure to deal with the problems of developing countries."
Mr Brown added that people had realised as a result of the Boxing Day disaster that "what happens to the richest citizen in the richest country affects the poorest citizen and the poorer country".
"Just as we've seen the power of nature to destroy, we've seen the power of human compassion to build and it's on that moral sense of 'something's got to be done' that we build."
Mr Brown's speech in Edinburgh lasted nearly an hour and was made to an audience of more than 200 people including aid workers in the newly opened extension to Scotland's National Gallery.
It came ahead of a week-long tour African states including Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.