O’Neill and Bono End African Tour in Ethiopia With Visit to HIV/AIDS Hospice, Orphanage
On the last leg of their African tour, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Irish rock star Bono visited people affected by HIV/AIDS at an Ethiopian hospice and orphanage, the AP/Arizona Republic reports. The hospice and orphanage are run by the Missionaries of Charity; the hospice treats more than 700 people with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and the orphanage houses more than 200 children who have mental and physical disabilities. Bono said that places such as orphanages "prov[e] the need for international aid and debt relief." Ethiopia has the third-largest population of HIV-positive individuals in the world. As many as three million Ethiopians have HIV (England, AP/Arizona Republic, 5/31).
Although O'Neill stated that he and Bono had "bonded together" on the trip, he resisted Bono's call for increased aid to Africa (Somerville, Reuters/Washington Times, 5/31). O'Neill instead "sounded a clarion call" to rid the region of dirty water, which contributes to millions of deaths and illnesses each year in developing countries. The Washington Post reports that O'Neill's insistence on bringing clean water to the region will "put pressure on aid agencies to make a substantially greater effort" toward that goal. According to the Post, the trip may have a "lasting impact" on the administration's foreign aid policies and those of the World Bank -- of which the United States is the "dominant member" -- as O'Neill "has made promises [on the trip] to put a top priority on economic development." Although O'Neill continues to balk at sending large amounts of aid to the region, he "has been at pains recently" to praise as successful many of the programs the pair has visited. "Programs are working. Aid is helping. ... But more needs to be done. And it needs to be done right. And it needs to be done now," O'Neill said yesterday (Blustein, Washington Post, 5/31). Bono and O'Neill will leave Africa today (AP/Arizona Republic, 5/31). Photos of the tour and an audio interview with Bono are available online from USA Today (Memmott, USA Today, 5/31).