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New Alliance Appeals for Long-Term Aid

Uwe Hessler (dc)January 11, 2005

The German government has promised €500 million in aid for countries affected by the tsunami -- a good sign that more long-term development aid is possible, say five German organisations who've launched a joint appeal.

Joining forces: long-term aid for the poorest of the poorImage: AP

In view of the billions of dollars pledged from all over the world to the flood-hit regions, five German aid organisations have urged that the money should, without exception, be spent on reconstruction projects that will improve the quality of life for the poorest people in the affected countries.

In Berlin on Monday, five charities -- Brot für die Welt, medico international, Misereor, terre des homes and German Agro Action -- announced they would team up in a new alliance in an effort to coordinate their activities on the ground more closely. All five organisations are active in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Beyond immediate need

A spokesperson for the new alliance said that while poor people are most vulnerable to the effects of a disaster such as the tsunami, assisting these people in a long-term effort could limit the consequences of a catastrophe in the future. Martin Bröckelmann, head of Misereor, said governments should also strive to eradicate the causes of extreme poverty and hunger in these regions when giving aid now.

"In regions where wars are being waged and regimes rule that don’t care about the poor, the affects of the tsunami floods have been much more disastrous," Bröckelmann said. "The poor are those who suffer most, and after catastrophes such as this, the lack of justice and equality in society becomes more apparent."

The new alliance is designed to merge the five organizations' short-term disaster relief with long-term development aid.

Appeal to industrialized nations

"We are an alliance of development aid organizations that all focus primarily on international justice and an end to poverty and exploitation," said Peter Mucke, chief executive of terre des homes. "The donations we receive are being spent on long-term projects in the first place, which means our support exists long before a disaster happens and continues long after it is no longer in the international spotlight."

The alliance's representatives also urged industrialized nations not to forget their pledge made to the United Nations to earmark 0.7 percent of their GDP to international development. Despite the generosity being shown by the German government and public in terms of donations for the tsunami victims, the alliance criticized the fact that Germany is behind on its development promise, with just 0.28 percent of GDP currently being spent on aid.