A U.S. promise to disperse $674 million for famine relief in Africa has disappointed independent development groups, who decried the proposal as a sham that offers too little in face of the continent's mounting crises.
President George W. Bush announced the funding Tuesday in response to humanitarian emergencies in Africa. Some $414 million of this sum will be provided immediately to avert famine in the Horn of Africa.
The White House says that the aid will help 14 million people at risk in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti.
The announcement was made at a joint press conference in Washington with
British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Britain expects to contribute some $300 million this year in response to humanitarian needs in Africa, including $50 million for Ethiopia.
But despite intensive lobbying, Blair failed to cash in on his political capital with the U.S. president to get Bush to give more than a verbal commitment to consider a plan to cancel the debt owed by Africa's most impoverished nations. He also failed to get a pledge from the U.S. to double aid to Africa, as recommended by his Commission for Africa.