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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
David Cameron defends Rwanda trip
Conservative leader David Cameron met by Senator Agnes Mukabaranga, as he arrives at Kigali airport.
David Cameron is concerned about the efficacy of relief aid
Tory leader David Cameron has arrived in Rwanda and fended off suggestions that he should be at home, where parts of his Witney constituency are flooded.

Mr Cameron, who is in the east African country for the night as part of an aid project, said he could not let down the people he had arranged to visit.

He said issues like flooding, climate change and poverty could not be dealt with, without engaging with Africa.

On Tuesday, he launches the Tory policy group on global poverty's report.

It is understood to call for new ways to make the delivery of international aid more effective.

Personal priority

Mr Cameron has said that tackling global poverty is a "personal priority" and is also meeting Conservative volunteers who are taking part in a two-week aid project.

On Sunday he visited Witney, his West Oxfordshire constituency, where 3,000 homes have been flooded. He said he had been in touch with the local council leader since arriving in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

I read the story and I just concluded that there was very little in it
David Cameron on claims Tory MPs were calling for a vote of no confidence

And the Sunday Telegraph reported that at least two, unnamed, Tory MPs were calling for a vote of no confidence in his leadership, after the party came in third in two by-elections last week.

But despite problems back home, Mr Cameron said he could not let down the people who he had arranged to meet on the long-planned trip, saying African issues could have a direct impact on issues like flooding, climate change, migration and poverty.

"These are issues we can't deal with unless we engage with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa."

He added: "It does relate directly to what is happening to people in the UK in many ways."

Genocide memorial

Of the Sunday Telegraph report he said: "I read the story and I just concluded that there was very little in it."

More than 40 Tory volunteers are transforming a once-derelict orphanage into a school and have been working on aid projects in the country for the past week.

Mr Cameron, who is staying for one night, will lay a wreath at a memorial for victims of the country's 1994 genocide, which cost the lives of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, helps build at the Girubuntu Project
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood is amongst those helping to build the school

Soon after arriving he took a tour of a Kigali textile factory and promised its owner, Raj Rejendran, to raise the issue of UK duty on silk imports with the UK government.

BBC political correspondent Carole Walker, who is in Kigali, said Mr Cameron will renew his party's commitment to boost aid to the UN target of 0.7% of national income, over the next six years.

But he will say it is time to move from increasing the amount of aid, to increasing its effectiveness.

The Conservative policy group, headed by former cabinet minister Peter Lilley, is to propose new ways in making the delivery of aid more transparent, with an independent body to monitor how much government aid gets to those who really need it.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A Conservative MP on why tackling poverty is important



SEE ALSO
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Diary: Tory volunteers in Rwanda
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