( AFP ) - British charity Oxfam released Friday figures on aid spending showing that rich countries had broken promises made to substantially increase assistance to developing countries.
The figures showed that in many of the Group of Eight (G8) richest nations, aid spending as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) had dropped significantly.
Oxfam pointed out that in 1970 rich countries promised to set aside 0.7 percent of their income as aid. It also referred to the 2005 agreement at the G8 summit in Gleneagles Scotland, to substantially increase development aid to Africa.
But the overall figure for European Union aid spending was down 5.8 percent from 2006 to 2007, with just 0.4 percent of the EU's total GNI going to aid spending.
For the rich countries of the OECD, the figures were down 8.4 percent to 0.28 percent.
"These figures don't lie," said Jeremy Hobbs of Oxfam International.
"They show a clear lack of leadership on bringing much needed funding to poor countries.
"This failure to deliver on aid promises means millions of children denied a place in school, and mothers and children condemned to die," he added.
"We must see emergency plans announced to rapidly increase aid at the G8 this summer."
Among the most striking figures were those of Britain, which hosted the Gleneagles summit at which the developed economies agreed to stimulate the developing economies of Africa with substantial extra resources.
British aid spending between 2006 and 2007 dropped by 29.1 percent to 0.36 percent of GNI.
In France, spending over the same period dropped 15.9 percent to 0.39 percent of its GNI.
Japan's aid spending over the same period dropped by 30.1 percent, to just 0.17 percent of GNI.
"The leaders of rich countries such as UK, France and Japan must tell us why they are turning their backs on the poorest," said Hobbs.
"It is disappointing that France, which will take the presidency of the European Union in June is amongst the worst offenders."
He called on French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders to announce a rapid increase in aid budgets to "salvage their crumbling credibility in the eyes of the world," he added.
The sharpest drop over the 2006 to 2007 period was a 33.8 percent fall in Spain's aid budget. That meant Madrid spent 0.41 percent of its GNI on aid in 2007.
The drop over the same period in the United States was by 9.9 percent, meaning the United States spent just 0.16 of its budget on aid.
Oxfam used figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for its development spending data.