Humanitarian aid and the economic crisis

I was pleased to hear EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announce a further €30 million of aid for those affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan.

There are those who believe that, given the economic situation in Britain and Europe, we are not in a position to be helping others in need around the world. Whilst we are deeply concerned about the hardships that people are facing at home, and are working hard to bring Britain and Europe out of the financial crisis, we cannot abandon our commitment to humanitarian aid and international development. It is wrong that somebody’s chances in life depend on where they are born and in times of serious economic difficulties it is even more important that we keep our commitments to those in need.

After the shocking earthquake in Haiti Nick Griffin complained that we shouldn’t be sending aid to “rioting ingrates” whilst Britain faces problems of its own. I condemned these comments immediately. Not only was the situation in Haiti a terrible human tragedy, but also one that happened in one of the poorest countries in the world. That is why of the money Cathy Ashton pledged, at least €200 million is for medium and long term needs.

Meanwhile Labour MEPs are working hard to make sure the financial crisis cannot happen again. Recently my colleague Arlene McCarthy secured an important deal on curbing bankers’ bonuses, and the whole of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament have thrown their support behind a Financial Transaction Tax, which would both stabilise financial markets and raise around €200 billion in Europe to help fight poverty and inequality at home and abroad. The EU is a way for us to find international solutions to international problems, which include both humanitarian disasters and the economic crisis.

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