Stamping out corruption can save lives, watchdog says

BERLIN, September 23, 2008 (AFP) – Stopping practices such as cronyism and embezzlement can save lives in poor countries, a graft watchdog said Tuesday as Somalia, Iraq and Myanmar again came bottom in its global corruption rankings.

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“In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,” Transparency International (TI) said.

“The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated,” the non-governmental organisation’s head Huguette Labelle said.

Rampant corruption in low-income countries also jeopardises the global fight against poverty and threatens to derail the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the report published in Berlin said.

This “calls for a more focused and coordinated approach by the global donor community to ensure development assistance is designed to strengthen institutions of governance and oversight in recipient countries, and that aid flows themselves are fortified against abuse an