International Aid to Africa Lagging

By Marc Perelman

Published April 29, 2005, issue of April 29, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Africa lags behind other regions not only in terms of development aid but also when it comes to emergency relief, according to the United Nations’s top humanitarian official.

“It is one of the biggest imbalances of our time — compassion,” undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland told the Forward in a phone interview. “We are setting incredible world records in generosity and in effectiveness for tsunami relief efforts,” and yet in Africa, “we have virtually no money to undertake our operations.”

While most of the $1 billion emergency relief allocated for the Asian regions hit by the tsunami in 2005 already has been disbursed, none of the 14 crises zones in Africa has received more than 30% of the money called for by the U.N.

Egeland, an outspoken Norwegian who chided the Western world and especially the Bush administration for being “stingy” in the wake of the tsunami that devastated Southern Asia in late December 2004, said that every 10 months Congo had a death toll equivalent to the tsunami.

“But I must say that we collected less money in the past 10 years in Congo than we did in the past 10 weeks for the tsunami,” Egeland said.

He acknowledged that Africa had an “image problem” linked to corruption and the “impression that it sucks money like a black hole.”

Egeland said the humanitarian community was partly to blame for failing to provide a compelling tableau that would trigger more action for what he calls a “winning case.” One remedy, he said, is to offer concrete examples to show the modest cost of improving the situations. For instance, he noted that Americans spend more each year on chewing gum than is needed to feed the poor and prevent death by starvation.

Egeland said he was nevertheless optimistic because the tsunami had prompted more public and private generosity, which could end up helping Africa. He added there was no doubt that Western interest in helping Africa was growing, including within the Bush administration.

“People understand that you cannot isolate yourself and sit in a wealthy corner of the world and see mass suffering elsewhere,” he said.






Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.