Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Cameron focus on extreme poverty

David Cameron said it is important for donor nations to 'look at those things that keep countries poor'

David Cameron has called for the next wave of international development targets to focus on extreme poverty.

The Prime Minister, in Liberia to attend a UN meeting, also insisted bolstering security and civil structures was crucial, alongside aid measures.

The high-level panel, which Mr Cameron is jointly chairing with the country's president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is part of the process to decide what targets to bring in after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Cameron said: "Liberia is a country that was absolutely devastated by conflict and civil war. It is now recovering but there is still desperate poverty.

"I think it is very important we keep a focus on eradicating extreme poverty. Here in Liberia, one in 10 children do not make it to the age of five. But I also think it is important we look at those things that keep countries poor.

"Conflict, corruption, lack of justice, lack of the rule of law. These things matter as well as money."

Backing ambitious targets could fuel anger among Tory backbenchers at plans to raise aid spending to 0.7% of UK GDP. The premier was forced to concede on Thursday that the defence budget could face more cuts in 2015-16, while the international development budget is protected.

The Prime Minister visited the Anna F Whisnant Elementary school with the country's president, 74-year-old Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Meeting children in the playground outside the school, he asked them all what they wanted to do. Many of them said they wanted to be doctors, lawyers and even government ministers.

Asked by Mr Cameron what they would do if they ran the school, one child replied: "Open a library." A clearly impressed Mr Cameron joked: "If you ask children in the UK, all they want to be is pop stars and footballers."

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