Magazine article New Internationalist

The Phantom Menace

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Phantom Menace

Article excerpt


With anti-poverty campaigners demanding action not just more promises, cynicism and razor wire surrounded June's 68 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.

The host, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, had positioned Africa and climate change as the meeting's top priorities. But anyone looking for progress towards the already questionable targets set two years ago at Gleneagles was sorely disappointed.

This year's big announcement - of $60 billion for AIDS and other diseases - proved to be a sham. When the numbers were crunched, they revealed little more than $3 billion in new money.

The Gleneagles pledge of $50 billion in additional aid by 2010 is now $27 billion short. Japan, Canada and Italy performed particularly badly, each guilty of actively blocking any progress on concrete commitments in the communiqué.

But underpinning all the talk of failed targets is a far more serious issue: that of aid quality. Much of the G8's supposed financial generosity is not genuinely available for poverty reduction in poor countries. This type of aid has been branded 'phantom aid' and makes up over 60 per cent of rich countries' current overseas assistance. …

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