8 Jun 2013

Cameron: aid tradition makes me ‘proud to be British’

Britain pledges £375 million to help feed millions of the world’s poorest children, as part of a global agreement to tackle malnutrition.

The Government has committed to giving an extra £375 million to help feed the world’s poorest children.

The aid is part of a £2.7 billion global agreement aimed at preventing millions of infant deaths – and boosting the chances of millions more, the Department for International Development said.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian vice president Michel Temer and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation president Jamie Cooper-Hohn led a high-level summit in London committing them to supporting a historic reduction in malnutrition.

David Cameron acknowledged concern over the ringfenced aid budget of 0.7 per cent of gross national income at a summit on hunger in London, which comes ahead of the G8 meeting of the world’s wealthiest countries later this month.

He said: “There are still 1 billion people going hungry. One in four children are stunted through chronic malnutrition. And 165 million children are so malnourished by the age of two that their minds and bodies will never fully develop.

“This is a massive issue for humanity and it’s absolutely right that as Britain hosts the G8 Summit we should call this conference today.”

He added: “There are those who say – ‘OK, it will make a difference, but why does Britain always have to be out in front?’ Let me tell you why.

“It’s because of the kind of people we are and the kind of country we are. We are the kind of people who believe in doing what is right. We accept the moral case for keeping our promises to the world’s poorest even when we face challenges at home.

“When people are dying, we don’t believe in finding excuses, we believe in trying to do something about it. Look at Band Aid and Live8. Look at Red Nose Day. Look at the way the British public respond to appeals from the Disasters Emergency Committee.

“During the famine in East Africa, British people gave £79 million. This is British families looking at the images on their televisions and responding with their hearts. It says something about this country.

It says something about the kind of people we are. And that makes me proud to be British. David Cameron

“It says something about our standing in the world and our sense of duty in helping others. In short – it says something about the kind of people we are. And that makes me proud to be British.”

He said Britain would continue to honour its promise to spend 0.7 per cent of national income, saying British spending commitments could help 37 million children fight malnutrition – at a cost of less than 1p a day for the taxpayer.

Longer-term pressure

Meanwhile, Bill Gates and Danny Boyle are among the names to address a protest rally to coincide with the London meeting, which comes ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

Thousands of people gathered in the capital’s Hyde Park for the anti-hunger demonstration, hosted by lobby group Enough Food For Everyone If.

Celebrities give support

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Homeland actor David Harewood and singer Myleene Klass also appeared. Recorded messages from David Beckham and Eddie Izzard were broadcast to the crowd.

Sally Copley, Enough Food for Everyone If spokeswoman, said: “The Hunger Summit and the G8 summit following it must take ambitious action to end hunger. That means clamping down on tax dodging in poor countries, tackling malnutrition, and cracking down on land grabs. We can eradicate hunger, but it needs real political leadership to do so.

“We’re demanding action, not words and a lot is riding on what can be delivered in the next 10 days.”

‘The generation to end global hunger’

Danny Boyle said ending world hunger would be “the greatest gold medal Britain could win in 2013”.

The film director called on world leaders to “fight and fight and fight” to stop people dying through lack of food.

Boyle told the crowd: “I’d like to reflect for a moment on the Olympics, on the opening ceremony on which I worked.

“It completely horrifies me, when I think about that wonderful procession of optimistic, enthusiastic athletes with their flags of their countries – that in the countries represented by those flags more than three million children die of hunger every year.”

He added: “Anyone who says that we can’t crack the hunger crisis is wrong.

“This is my dream – it’s a passionate dream – that in Olympics to come there will be no-one dying of hunger in any of the countries whose wonderful flags wave in the wind. And it is a fight that will be won.

“We expect our government and other world leaders to fight with all the energy and cunning and determination of Chris Hoy and Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins – to fight and fight and fight to end hunger until they win.”