Ethiopia + 4 more

Clare Short statement in response to today's Observer article and leader on Ethiopia

The Observer leader headline says, 'Don't cut third world aid'.

We haven't. After 18 years of decline, this Government has increased third world aid by 28 per cent in real terms, that's an extra =A31.6 billion for development. Over the same period, Britain's bilateral development aid to Africa has gone up from =A3297 million to =A3395 million.

On Ethiopia, because of the war with Eritrea, Britain like others has reduced long-term aid because we are not confident that the resources would actually be used to benefit the people of the country and because otherwise the resources put in by donors would simply be used to subsidise arms spending. This is quite different from humanitarian assistance which we provide unconditionally to those who are suffering, whoever they are and wherever they are. Britain has already provided =A34.4 million of food aid to Ethiopia since the start of the year. We will provide more if needed. We stand ready to help Ethiopia with long-term development if a peace agreement with Eritrea can be concluded.

The Observer says that we have cut aid to Mozambique by =A324 million. This is wrong. Assistance to Mozambique has increased steadily from =A319 million in 1997/98 to a total of =A357 million in 99/00.

On Zimbabwe, we do provide resources where they can get through to the people of the country. It would be wrong to make the poor people of Zimbabwe suffer for the mismanagement of the economy by the Government of Zimbabwe.

On Sierra Leone, Britain is leading the world in our support for the fragile peace process. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world. We are helping that country to rebuild after years of terrible civil war and suffering.