WASHINGTON – President Bush's repeated claims that the United States has tripled aid to Africa during his administration are false,according to a Brookings Institution report released Monday.
The report showed the actual amount did not even double.
The report calls into question the president's commitment to relieve poverty-stricken African nations just one week before the Group of Eight Summit,which is expected to discuss the issue. “U.S. Foreign Assistance to Africa: Claims vs. Reality” found that U.S. dollars to Africa increased from $2.034 billion in 2000 to $3.399 billion in 2004 – a boost of 67 percent.
Susan E. Rice,former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and author of the report,said in a conference call with reporters that she analyzed all forms of aid flowing from the United States to Africa in an effort to “get behind the numbers.”
Bush defended his refusal to join British Prime Minister Tony Blair's call for $25 billion in aid to Africa after their June 7 meeting. Bush announced he would spend an additional $674 million in aid and would agree to cancel debts for some poor countries. He said the United Stated had tripled aid to the continent since 2000.
“The administration has made some assertions about its spending levels that are,frankly, not accurate,” Rice said.
Rice called Bush's claims a “substantial gap between promise and reality.” She noted that,even though the U.S. has made some strides in its broad policy toward Africa,such as its 30 percent increase in spending on its HIV/AIDS initiative,the U.S. has fallen short of making a real commitment.
Rice said that 53 percent,or $728.9 million,of the increased spending between 2000 and 2004 went toward emergency food aid,rather than development.
“These are not the sort of resources that enable countries to embark on a path of sustainable development,” Rice said. “It is important for life saving,but for a development point of view,it is a Band-Aid.”
Steve Pike,State Department spokesman,said the United States is committed to both development and emergency aid.
“You have disasters out there. You have to keep people alive. You have to have a balance,” Pike said.