Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Blair Africa charity award attacked

A petition calling for a charity to take back an award presented to former prime minister Tony Blair for his work to address poverty in Africa has gained more than 90,000 signatures.

Mr Blair was presented with the Global Legacy Award by Save the Children US at an event in New York last week.

The petition claims the former politician's "'legacy' in Iraq overshadows his achievements in Africa".

Britain invaded Iraq in 2003 when Mr Blair was prime minister.

As well as the online petition calling for the award to be "revoked" it is reported almost 200 staff at the charity have also condemned the decision and signed an internal letter to that effect.

The letter stated that the award was "inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children's founding principles and values", the Guardian reported.

It also said the charity's global media manager Krista Armstrong had sent an email to senior colleagues noting negative reaction to the award and acknowledging Mr Blair as a "hugely controversial and divisive figure in many parts of the world".

The Guardian article is branded "neither balanced nor fair", in a response posted on the Office of Tony Blair website that claims the report ignored Mr Blair's work in Africa and "sought to traduce the reputation of Save the Children".

The response said: " The award was in recognition of Tony Blair's work in leading G8 nations at Gleneagles in 2005 to pledge to double aid to Africa and provide 100% debt relief to eligible countries, as well as his ongoing work in partnership with African governments through his Foundation, the Africa Governance Initiative.

"The AGI is helping some of the world's poorest people and is today working in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Guinea, Nigeria and Ethiopia."

Comedian Dom Joly tweeted that he was "pretty embarrassed" to be an ambassador for Save The Children "when they hand out awards to Tony Blair for his 'anti-poverty' work".

He added: "I can only assume they meant his own, personal poverty?"

A spokesperson from the office of Mr Blair defended the award, saying: "You will be interested to know that Raj Shah, head of USAid, when presenting the award said 'If we can stay committed and show the passion and determination that Tony Blair has, we can end poverty'."

In his acceptance speech at the Save The Children Annual Illumination Gala in New York last week Mr Blair said: "It's amazing how nice people are to you when you stop being prime minister."

He said: "What we celebrate is the opposite of cynicism and the reason for optimism. And that's why personally I feel proud and am immensely honoured to be with you tonight and to accept the award."


From Belfast Telegraph