British Government Shamed Into Pledging More Aid | December 31, 2004

This morning the UK government had pledged a measly £15 Million pounds in Aid to help the relief efforts in South East Asia. A fraction of what’s needed and a tiny percentage of what’s been spent on the war in Iraq. By Thursday evening the charity donations from the UK alone had reached £25 Million, shaming the UK government into raising it’s contribution by £35 million.

The US initially pledges $15 million, a figure U.N. humanitarian-aid chief, Jan Egeland described as “stingy”. By Tue the US had raised it’s contribution by $20 million, however this is still a tiny amount compared considering the scale of the devastation.

Posted at December 31, 2004 12:10 AM


Ryan said on December 31, 2004 1:18 AM

First off, I in no way support the war in Iraq. I support our troops but their boss is an idiot. That being said, it always amazes me how much the world out side the U.S. wants us to mind our business until help is needed. Believe me when I say that any money that anyone can spare should go to the relief work, I just don’t think we should be treated like a punching bag then a piggy bank. We have our own problems too. You have seen who our president is right?

Colin Barnes said on December 31, 2004 1:21 AM

The reason why your country is treated like a punching bag is because of the total lack of foreign policy by your president.

As far as relief cash goes, it is every countries obligation to give as much as possible for this terrible disaster.

The amount america is giving compared to the amount it has spent on Iraq is disgusting (this goes for the UK government aswell mind).

Pat Meeks said on December 31, 2004 1:54 AM

Bush has so humiliated us and portrayed us as completely egocentric to the world (not that we aren’t “mostly” egocentric). He has never greated a casket of a dead US soldier (even forbiding photographs of returning coffins), only visits wounded soldiers when he gets his annual physical, has never acknowledged the thousands of Iraqi civilan deaths, has totally ignored Darfur and now it takes him four days to comment about the tsunami tragedy. I guess he must have found it a huge annoyance to interupt yet another vacation to acknowledge human suffering.

I do think that the US and other developed Western countries should contribute heavily to assist those in less developed countries. After all, most of our wealth was built on the backs of these countries.

Chris Vincent said on December 31, 2004 2:19 AM

Hopefully, people just watching after people will be able to make up for the stinginess of those put into power to serve mankind. Hopefully, the small contributions of many people together can bring about the necessary relief.

It’s a sad world when we are so quick to spend billions to start wars and kill, yet we hold our wallets tightly when it comes to helping victims of devastation. And then we say that the wars were fought to help such people; what an insult.

Yvonne Adams said on December 31, 2004 2:41 AM

Early today I posted that given that Australia (20 million citizens) pledged $27 million and Spain (43 million citizens) pledged $68 millions, it only made sense that the US (almost 300 million citizens) up its cash contribution to $300 million.

$1 per person isn’t much to ask, is it?

Scott said on December 31, 2004 2:43 AM

It made no sense that the useless UN would call the US ‘stingy’ when Jan’s own country pledged less than the country of Denmark, which didn’t pledge that much. Furthermore, how dare he suggest we raise taxes. The only reason the American economy is doing as well as it is and has recovered as fast as it has is because our taxes are among the lowest of industrialized nations.
I have spent nearly two months in Europe in the past year and I will grant you, that in general, Europeans get what they pay for. Their roads are better, police are better, so on and so forth. Two of my favorite countries (outside of the US), the UK and the Netherlands are good examples.

Chris Vincent said on December 31, 2004 3:16 AM

Scott -

When you take the relative wealth of the US compared to other countries, it is stingy.

There is a story in the Bible about a poor woman who gave two cents to charity and a rich man who gave $100 (I know, that wasn’t the currency, but just to illustrate). The contribution of the poor woman counted more, because it was all that she had. The rich man’s contribution was just pocket change for him - he really didn’t care.

Greg K Nicholson said on December 31, 2004 3:22 AM

Last I heard (correct me if I’m wrong) the United States had pledged a sum equivalent to £18M; compared to this, the UK government’s original contribution of £15M is thoroughly generous.

The total donated by governments worldwide is $500M (again, correct me if I’m wrong); this equates to roughly £250M; a fifth of that (£50M) is from the UK government and a further tenth (£25M) from the British public.

Andy R said on December 31, 2004 3:46 AM

I pay my taxes so that the Government can act on my behalf. I would gladly forego some of the benefits I recieve as a result of more of my taxes being given to help the people of the world who need it.

£35 Million is an irrelevent amount considering how much we waste, both in governement and in our daily lives. I am ashamed that a nation with the wealth of Britain can consider this enough. Surely there are new road building schemes that could be put off for a year, or cancelled? and I’m sure we pile enough subsidies into the rail service as it is to spare a little of that.

I don’t want to critise any other countries. I want to view the donations in the light of the assistance that they will provide. It is good to give to help others, but forcing / coercing someone to give more (unless they represent you) is not the right way to do things, and starts to negate the spirit of the assistance.

The UK governement should be giving more, much more. If my taxes are going to help anyone, then those that are truly suffering in the world should come first.

Adrian Lee said on December 31, 2004 4:45 AM

Well you UKers should feel even better if you feel that you’re not contributing enough. According to the BBC, you’re the second highest contributing body to the crisis. But we must acknowledge the fact that any contribution is good contribution. Hopefully countries are not using this disaster to boost their ‘moral standings’.

As of right now, here are the largest players according to BBC:
-World Bank $250m
-UK $96m
-EU $44m
-US: $35m
-Canada: $33m
-Japan: $30m
-Australia: $27m
-France: $20.4m
-Denmark: $15.6m
-Saudi Arabia: $10m

gummi said on December 31, 2004 10:13 AM

Scale is important amongst the largest players:

>Second, Bush is an MBA, so he knows very well the difference between absolute numbers and per capita ones. Let’s see, Australia offered US $27 million in aid for victims of the tsunami. Australia’s population is about 20 million. Its gross domestic product is about $500 billion per year. Surely anyone can see that Australia’s $27 million is far more per person than Bush’s $35 million. Australia’s works out to $1.35 per person. The US contribution as it now stands is about 9 cents per person. So, yes, the US is giving more in absolute terms. But on a per person basis, it is being far more stingy so far. And Australians are less wealthy than Americans, making on average US $25,000 per year per person, whereas Americans make $38,000 per year per person. So even if Australians and Americans were both giving $1.35 per person, the Australians would be making the bigger sacrifice. But they aren’t both giving $1.35; the Bush administration is so far giving an American contribution of nine cents a person.

From And how about a bit of empathy with that scale?

Rob Mientjes said on December 31, 2004 11:42 AM

The Netherlands contributed €2 million directly after it happened, but saw it was hardly enough. So the Netherlands have donated another €25 million, in my eyes topping the amount one of the biggest industrial countries in the world donated (one euro is approx. 1 dollar 30). Our country isn’t that big, so the collected €9,5 million by my fellow countrymen isn’t that bad either.

Just a little FYI. Especially to Adrian Lee there ;)

Small Paul said on December 31, 2004 12:08 PM

Hmmm. Does anyone know how much money is thought to be required for the immediate relief effort? I a UN person say yesterday that they’re doing fine for money, so I think getting snippy about how much countries have given is, well, a bit pointless.

Isn’t the response the biggest aid effort in history, or something?

Andy Budd said on December 31, 2004 2:28 PM

The latest figure I’ve heard is £7 Billion will be required for the long term relief efforts.

Jez said on December 31, 2004 3:30 PM

You should not really argue about the size of the population of a country to that of its donations. It is normally calculated by the GDP of a country to the total sum of donations made by that country.

The UK are also sending a warship out equipped with Lynx helicopters to help the movement of aid. And in the UK £15,000 is being donated a minute to the cause.

And also updates about donations:

alex said on January 3, 2005 12:02 AM

I personally wouldn’t have use the word ‘shamed’. The aid the UK gave was bound to go up. The fact that as a country we have been able to pledge so much, it’s amazing. It makes me proud to be British - the bickering by people like you doesn’t.

It’s a fantastic achievement, especially compared to other countries. I know, its no competition - a terrible thing has happened, but nothing is going to change that and our country is at least trying to help.


Peter G. said on January 3, 2005 7:38 PM

Here’s a good article some of you should read.

me said on January 3, 2005 10:17 PM

Just a comment —

Does anyone realize that of ALL the aid given globally by all nations, the U.S. contributed FOURTY PERCENT? That’s almost half, given by the U.S. alone.

I’m just tired of my country being ragged all the time for ‘not giving enough’.

Peter said on January 5, 2005 12:25 AM

For the record, as of now, the US has contributed over 350 million dollars in aide. Second only to Japan’s 500 million.

Andy Budd said on January 6, 2005 9:06 AM

The UK have also upped their pledge. They started by saying that they would match all charitable donations, then going on to say that in all honestly they would likely spend a couple of hundred million.

I don’t think the word shamed is too strong. The publics generosity far outstripped the generosity of the various governments and left them looking bad by comparison. Then the Japanese government came in with a ridiculously generous pledge making the rest of the G8 look stingy by comparison. I honestly think that the UK government were taken by surprise by public sentiment and only started making reasonable pledges when they realised it could garner them some good public favour.

I’m sorry Alex that my feeling that the UK government could have been much more generous from the outset doesn’t make you proud to be British. Maybe you’d be happier if we simply agreed with everything our governments do and stifled critical and independent thinking.

me: I think it’s great that the US donates so much. However you have to realise foreign aid is as much a mechanism for exerting foreign policy as it is a genuine desire to help other countries. For instance, the US gave a whopping $15bn in aid to help the global AIDS epidemic which is fantastic. However rather than this money going to charities providing care or the provision of cheap drugs where it’s most needed, it’s going to Christian based charities extolling the virtues of abstinence. This looks great at home as Bush was elected due in a large part to the Christian right. It also helps support the interests of the large US pharmaceutical companies who are concerned that the spread of cheap generic aids drugs will hurt their global businesses.

The thing that most impresses me about the current situation is that the pledges of money from various governments around the world seem to be totally genuine and lacking in any ulteria motive. Something that’s quite unusual for governments ion general.