EVEN THE amount of aid Western governments have been shamed into giving so far could turn out to be a mirage.
“There is definitely double accounting going on,” says United Nations official Rudolf Muller. “A lot of the money will be swallowed up by the military, or will have been diverted from existing loans.”
Rich governments and agencies like the IMF “pledged” £500 million to the victims of the earthquake that struck Iran in December 2003. A year later, as the Asian tsunami hit, just £9 million of that had arrived.
Of the £230 million pledged to Mozambique after floods four years ago, only half was actually delivered.
It is a similar picture in Nicaragua, Honduras, Bangla-desh, Gujarat in India and other areas that have suffered disasters over the last few years.
And leading charities are warning that the “new money” announced for the tsunami-
affected countries could come from raiding budgets earmarked for countries such as Sudan and Congo, where there are also humanitarian crises.
The picture for longer term aid to reconstruct battered areas is just as grim. Rich states, particularly the US, have historically tied it to contracts for their own corporations or to the implementation of free market policies.
Most of the “foreign aid” given by the US is military assistance to favoured states. This is the kind of “aid” the US has been providing to the Indonesian military for decades as it crushed the people of East Timor and, more recently, of Aceh, the area worst hit by the tsunami.