Michael Burke:- The donors conference in New York has now seen pledges of $5.3bn in aid to Haiti.
Unfortunately, there is a long history of broken promises arising from international donor conferences. Maybe that is why Britain promised absolutely nothing at all.
The Times justifies the decision here, arguing that money is going to Afghanistan and Pakistan
In fact the NGOs estimate that around $7bn in aid is requirid immediately, simply to return the country’s housing and infrastructure to pre-earthquake level, let alone provide any real development assistance.
In attempting to justify the decision to provide no new funds at the conference, Mike Foster, the Overseas Development Minister, said that Britain had pledged £20 million for initial emergency relief and had donated £33 million going through the European Commission, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Mr Foster also said that Britain’s £29 million funding this year for the UN mission in Haiti although Britain is obliged to pay for these ‘peacekeeping operations’, which existed long before the earthquake. The displeasure of the donors was marked by a refusal to grant British officials speaking rights at the press conference that followed.
Reports indicate that the British Treasury has blocked any payments, even though the international development budget is said to be one of those ‘ring-fenced’ from cuts. Ring-fenced it may be, but it appears that in boosting payments to both Pakistan and Afghanistan it is increasingly a tool of foreign policy aggression. This combination of reduced aid to the needy and increased militarisation of the Aid budget is clearly a co-ordinated foreign policy decision, presumably taken by the press’s favourite Labour Leader, David Milliband.