Band Aid 30

There are many problems with the world at the moment and certainly with our country but one thing that we can be proud of is our record of charity and giving to countries that are poorer than our own.  In fact we are the only G8 country and one of only 5 in the world to surpass the UN target of giving 0.70% of GDP in foreign aid a massive $18 billion in 2013.

Overseas Aid figures.  Special praise should be given to Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden as the only countries to exceed the agreed UN payments on Foreign Aid.

Overseas Aid figures. Special praise should be given to Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden as the only countries to exceed the agreed UN payments on Foreign Aid.

It’s something I think we can be proud of that even in times of hardships at home we increase out overseas payments even more, so long as they go to the right people.  As I once wrote in my post on Soft Power, we (The U.K.) are in the gradual process of moving our country from waging military wars to becoming a country that wages war on poverty, illness and disease.  We were also instrumental in forging agreement for the richest nations to cancel lots of debt from impoverished nations.

It’s something that we have an incredible track record of and not just with government spending.  The British public go out of their way to support charitable causes almost like no other. Thirty years ago, I along with my class-mates, were busy rehearsing the original Band Aid song for our school Christmas concert.  It was a then unique musical production featuring many of the biggest musical stars producing a song to help aid in Africa and if my memory is right, the famines in Ethiopia.    Do They Know It’s Christmas was the fastest selling song of all time and it stayed at number 1 in the charts for 5 weeks and can be relied on to be played each Christmas as one of the more downbeat Christmas songs and certainly the most important.


Selling 2 million copies and raising $24 million, it went on to inspire performance charity in the USA, France, Canada and Spain and even better led to the performance of two massive global Live Aid concerts in the U.K. and U.S.A that were broadcast to 165 countries and raising another $150 million.

Then there was a Band Aid 2, Band Aid 20 and a more recent concert in London all with the general aims of helping the poor overseas.

Last week it was announced that a new version of Do They Know It’s Christmas will be released for Band Aid 30 with new singers and indeed new lyrics.  The original song was quite negative towards Africa, part through naivety and partly perhaps to raise more money.    Though much foreign aid has been squandered in Africa through bad planning and corrupt officials, Africa cannot any longer be classed as the almost hopeless lost cause it was portrayed as in the 1980’s.

7 out of 10 of the fastest growing economies in the entire world are now in Africa and so it is wrong to think that things there haven’t improved.  In fact it’s often forgotten that Ebola was extinguished from Nigeria in a short period of time due to their competent health care and infrastructure.

However there are still many countries that for one reason or other still need assistance as can be readily seen with the recent outbreak of Ebola.  The United States, Britain and France have taken the lead in helping to beat the epidemic with Britain being tasked with Sierra Leone.  Thousands of service personnel have now been posted to the country and large numbers of volunteers and NHS doctors and nurses are leading the way in the crisis.

Band Aid is led by Sir Bob Geldof who has overseen every iteration since 1984.  He is a very passionate advocate of musicians and indeed everyone in the country doing whatever they can to beat poverty in the developing world and releasing a new version of Do They Know It’s Christmas is his way of lending his and our support for those of us who are not able to help against Ebola in West Africa.

I’ve seen him in a number of interviews yesterday in which he was adamant that not a single person needs to die from Ebola if only everyone was free from poverty, intact in his typical style he was cut off from at least one interview for swearing too much in an interview.   I think though, the world needs more people like Sir Bob as if you can’t be passionate about saving the world or eliminating poverty, what is the point in anything?  He also made a point of urging other countries to do more to combat Ebola and particular singled out Germany  stating “its leaders were not “doing enough” to tackle the epidemic.  The most powerful economy in Europe are laggards and they shouldn’t be, it’s as dangerous for them as it is for us.”

Foreign Aid by national income

Foreign Aid by national income. Special praise should go to Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and the U.K. for being the only nations to surpass the UN targets.

To reflect the changing circumstance in Africa and the fact that this song is targeting Ebola, some of the lyrics of the song have been changed.  30 years ago despite a massive row, Mrs Thatcher refused to give Band Aid tax relief.  This time round tax relief was given in advance and even iTunes have said that all monies paid will go entirely to the charity.

I have to say that I’m not very familiar with the majority of the  names on the list and have heard even less of them sing but it is nice to see that everyone has the opportunity to help eradicate this awful plague in their own way.

Bob Geldof – organiser
Midge Ure – organiser
Paul Epworth – producer
Instruments: Roger Taylor (from Queen) – Drums


Bastille, Bono (from U2), Clean Bandit, Disclosure, Elbow, Paloma Faith, Fuse ODG, Nick Grimshaw, Ellie Goulding, Angelique Kidjo, Chris Martin (from Coldplay), Olly Murs,
Sinead O’Connor, One Direction, Rita Ora, Emeli Sande, Seal,
Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Underworld and Jessie Ware

Remixes: Underworld and Disclosure

Band Aid 30

Band Aid 30

The song was first aired on Sunday Night during X-Factor and raised £1 million in the first 4 minutes so it looks like once again Do They Know It’s Christmas is going to be a big hit.   If you want to do your bit to help then you can download Band Aid 30 from iTunes  for just 99 pence or $1.29 and it will be available to buy in stores from early December. You can also view the new video here  and see the original hit here.

There is a valid argument that Foreign Aid means that the poor from rich countries end up giving money to the rich in poor countries and in Britain there has been some unhappiness with giving aid money to countries with Space Programmes or unfriendly intent might seem wrong,  at a certain level most people are more than happy to give money to those truly in need.

Where does British Tax Payers money go on Foreign Aid?

Where does British Tax Payers money go on Foreign Aid? (Figures and destinations 4 years old)

Whilst the United States gives the largest in absolute terms, add a percentage of national wealth, it isn’t doing as well compared to other much less wealthy nations.  What’s more around a third of the American foreign aid goes to a country that is as wealthy as an average European nation for political purposes whilst truly  impoverished countries like Ethiopia receive in comparison just a few crumbs.  Think what the 200 billion dollars that Israel has received in recent decades could do for a truly impoverished nation like Ethiopia.  Imagine if every nation met the target of the UN, so many lives would be saved and improved.  There is no excuse for countries like Germany, Japan, the United States, most of Europe and now nations like China.

U.S. Foreign Aid

U.S. Foreign Aid

In the end Foreign Aid is one of the few things we can do to help others at the country level.  At Christmas and at any other time of year we should always be grateful for living in the rich nations that most of us live in and give just a little each year to those in need.  If for no other reason than until poverty is eliminated then neither will people trafficking, mass immigration and many other problems which are overtaking our societies can truly be resolved.

As Sir Bob says, download the new Band Aid track, listen to it and then delete it and buy it again!

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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9 Responses to Band Aid 30

  1. Sandi Dunn says:

    Shouldn’t it be shown as per head of population to be accurate?


    • Hiya! Thanks for following my blog and for commenting. It has to be done by GDP as that is based on the productivity and wealth of the economy of each country. Otherwise you could have countries with big populations put which are poorer such as Turkey or Pakistan giving more than very rich nations.

      Lots of people only go my the value of donations but the only fair way is to go by the GDP which is why tiny Luxembourg ranks so highly as even though they are tiny, they give a much higher percentage of their total than giants like the USA, Japan or Germany.


  2. You might want to also factor in the usual U.S. military response whenever there is a major humanitarian crisis (Ebola, famine) or natural disaster (2004 earthquake/tsunami, typhoons, etc.). In many of these events the U.S. conducts very expensive military responses that probably do not show up in records such as those you posted here. Have any idea what it costs to put an aircraft carrier and its support fleet; run helo-based rescue and remote supply flights; or field a full-service field hospital in overseas and remote locations?!?


    • Hi Mike,

      yes, I’m not sure those occurrences are included in the figures. I have written to someone who should know yesterday and if I receive a reply I’ll let you know. I guess it also depends on how budgets are allocated and whether the military put those costs onto someone else or whether somehow it is factored into the cost of the military operations.

      I do know that Britain and sometimes France also send such assistance as is the case now with Ebola and that isn’t included in the British figures at least.

      I still think it would be nice though for not just the USA but other wealthy nations to meet the agreed UN figure of 0.70% of GDP as a starting point and have military support as extra as they aren’t required every year on a big scale.

      It should also not be down to the USA and to a lesser extent Britain and France to do all this every time there is an earthquake, flood or famine. New powers like China, India, Brazil and even Russia should contribute more and show some leadership instead of complaining from the sidelines about not being listened to but never actually doing very much positive to help.

      Thanks for commenting!


      • Just between you and me … I prefer the US (and her allies) do the bulk of the heavy lifting during disaster relief using military forces. It’s good training opportunity, but more importantly, it’s excellent at improving and fostering good relations with the people and countries affected!

        One reason military responses are appropriate is that usually we have carrier groups somewhere “nearby”, even if nearby is actually hundreds of miles away. Most other countries with more developed navies still do not have the global reach of the U.S.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes it is true, those that put in all the handwork usual make up for it in other ways afterwards!

          I just received an email from the Center For Global Development in Washington D.C. which made for interesting reading. Firstly it came up that some countries include loans in their figures which really shouldn’t be included and generally have to be paid back at very little loss to the donor country. France, Germany and Japan came up here which means there already low totals are even lower.

          “When US military assets are used in a humanitarian mission, I do not believe that the part of the budget that pays the bill changes. For example, if a US aircraft carrier is used in humanitarian response, I’m pretty certain that the Department of Defense still pays the salaries of the captain and sailors as well as other related expenses, like fuel. However, the humanitarian supplies the sailors are distributing would come out of the foreign aid budget. For a less theoretical example, the recent use of DoD funding toward Ebola in West Africa was only redirected within the DoD’s budget, not appropriated away from DoD and to the foreign aid budget.

          In terms of percent of GDP, I wouldn’t imagine that it would very large. If anything this kind of nuance would be a rounding error in terms of percent of GDP.”

          This makes sense to me and I guess similar things happen on a smaller scale with other Allied nations though as you say, doesn’t take anything away from the fact very few countries have such a military infrastructure to be able to do this anyway and it in the middle of disasters is probably of more practical use some times than donations of money or equipment as at the end of the day, you need people to transport and organise things.


  3. Boyer Writes says:

    Yes, Mike has hit it on the nose for even though there are those who say they hate the West…there has always been those here in the USA and abroad with big hearts willing to give of time and treasure to help out. How terribly sad it is to have people volunteer to give to and help those in need and end up beheaded because they happen to be born in the most generous nation in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t been able to properly answer Mike yet as I have emailed an organisation who should be able to give a good answer but you’re right of course. Where is all the aid and assistance from China? Why does Russia only seem to oppress and never help? Why can’t the extremely rich and well armed Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar actually do something for themselves and their region for once instead of let the West do the hard work and then get complained at for either doing too much or not enough. Most likely because they are all one way or the other dictators who don’t want to cause unrest at home and are happy just to ‘be’ so long as they can be in charge.

    I know that there are volunteers from non-western countries but frequently the finance and expertise comes from the West and it is extremely sick that anyone would behead aid workers even if you 100% disagreed with their politics.

    Perhaps it is because we and our governments care? Western hostages have been common in the Middle-East for decades. I just can’t imagine Aid workers coming to us and anything bad happening to them at all.

    Instead of sending 4 warships to Australia maybe Russia should send them to West Africa, full of medicines, doctors and aid workers and just for once do something unarguably good. A 2 second Google search found this article that pretty much says Russia, China, Brazil and other ‘powers’ aren’t doing very much at all.

    Thanks for commenting Nancy!


  5. Pingback: Band Aid 30 | Thomas Becket

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