Bush attacked over £370m Africa cash

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Aid agencies today panned US President George Bush's expected £370 million boost for famine relief in Africa, claiming it did not go nearly far enough.

Aid agencies today panned US President George Bush's expected £370 million boost for famine relief in Africa, claiming it did not go nearly far enough.

Mr Bush is due to make his announcement at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair in Washington later today.

The expected promise falls far short of Mr Blair's hopes for a long-term US commitment to help get Africa's economy back on its feet, but will allow him to claim some progress from his visit to the White House for two hours of talks.

But there was deep disappointment from the aid sector that the US was not willing to make a greater commitment.

Jonathan Glennie, a senior policy analyst from Christian Aid, said: "If this is President Bush's only response to the crisis in Africa, we think he cannot be serious about alleviating poverty.

"The sum of £370 million is a drop in the ocean compared to what Africa really needs - to reach the UN millennium development goals requires an extra £15 billion to £20 billion per year in aid.

"Let us hope this is only his opening gambit and that he comes to Gleneagles with a realistic and proper offer that will begin to match some of the expectations in Tony Blair's Africa Commission."

A spokesman for Oxfam was similarly scathing: "Today's American aid 'announcement' shows how far President Bush is from the ambition that is needed.

"The 'announcement' is not new money for Africa. The White House has made it clear that the funding comes from existing budgets.

"As the lowest aid donor per capita in the G7, America is finding itself increasing isolated. Today's 'announcement' will do nothing to challenge that.

"While the world asks for aid to be doubled, all the US seems willing to do is shunt around existing funds.

"It appears they are more concerned about securing headlines than lasting change in Africa."

A spokeswoman for the Jubilee Debt Campaign was unimpressed by Mr Bush's expected offer.

She said: "We welcome any new money for the lowest income countries but we have worked out that 62 countries need 100% debt relief - from the sound of it, this does not go nearly far enough."

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