Atlanta, April 15: Former US President Jimmy Carter on Thursday harshly criticised his own country and other wealthy states for being stingy with foreign aid and said in rich countries “We really don’t give a damn.”
In a speech to a human rights conference in Atlanta, Carter said increasing financial assistance was critical to battling malaria, AIDS and other common diseases that disproportionately affect the poorest parts of the world.
“Unfortunately, in the rich countries like ours, we really don’t give a damn,” said Carter, who was President from 1977 to 1981 and who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
He especially criticised the United States for failing to follow other Western nations which are increasing spending.
Although America tops the foreign aid donour list in dollar terms, it falls behind the Netherlands, Canada and many other smaller, less affluent nations when contributions are measured on a per capita basis.
US foreign aid is approximately 0.18 per cent of gross national product, the lowest of any G-7 nation and far below a 0.7 per cent United Nations target that 22 of the world’s developed nations have agreed to meet by 2015.
A handful have met the goal, while others such as Germany and Great Britain insist they will achieve it.
“We have not budged so far,” lamented Carter, who has spearheaded efforts through his non-profit Carter Center to eradicate diseases in the developing world, including Guinea worm and onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness.