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Leading article: No excuses when it comes to famine

The debate about whether aid is a sound way of reducing poverty in developing nations is necessary and important. But what both sides agree upon is that it is essential to make a distinction between normal intergovernmental subventions and emergency famine relief.

That is the context in which the accusation from Oxfam that European nations such as France, Denmark and Italy (although not Britain) are being slow to provide contributions to the famine relief programme for the Horn of Africa must be seen. When it comes to famine, things are brutally simple: if people do not get assistance, they will die.

Those European nations that are dragging their feet must remember this and make their contributions.