FUNNY TYPE OF AID
From last Sunday's Observer came the following report on a massive expansion of arms sales to Africa that has occurred at the same time as our government has talked about its commitment to that continent.
UK arms sales to Africa reach £1 billion mark Antony Barnett, public affairs editorSunday June 12, 2005 British arms sales to Africa have risen to record levels over the last four years and have reached the £1 billion mark, The Observer can reveal.
Analysis of official figures shows annual weapons sales almost quadrupled between 1999 and 2004.
Campaigners and MPs called the increase 'obscene' and 'unacceptable' at a time when the government is putting so much political capital into relieving poverty in Africa.
Many exports approved by the Department of Trade and Industry involve selling arms to some of the most deprived states and to countries with poor human rights records.
Among the most controversial exports since 2000 discovered by The Observer are:
· More than £30 million of military equipment sold to Angola, including armoured vehicles and body armour.
· Export licences granted by the DTI last year to sell £3.6m of military equipment to Malawi, one of the least developed nations in the world.
· Licences for military exports granted to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Algeria, Sudan, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia and Somalia.
· Arms sales to South Africa that trebled last year to £114m, including components for combat aircraft, missiles and radar.
· UK arms sales to Nigeria up tenfold since 2000 to £53m, including armoured vehicles and large calibre artillery.
According to the DTI's annual reports, specific licences for arms sales to Africa total more than £631m since 2000. But experts believe the true figure is closer to £1bn when the value of 'open' licences are taken into account. Such licences allow for smaller arms sales to take place with much less scrutiny from officials.
Paul Eavis, director of Saferworld, which campaigns for the control of the arms trade, said: 'The government is to be congratulated on leading the charge on debt relief, but if it is serious about helping Africa develop as a continent, then it should think again about its arms sales policies towards these countries.
At a time when questions are being asked regarding the conduct of many African governments, I think they should also be asked of our government. Arms sales are the last thing Africa needs and it is about time that the government stopped holding arms fairs and instead stamped on these whores of death!