Advocates Bono, Geldof Call on G8 To Fulfill Aid Pledges
Irish musicians and development advocates Bono and Bob Geldof on Wednesday criticized the Group of Eight industrialized nations for falling behind on their aid pledges to Africa, AFP/Google.com reports. Bono and Geldof also urged France, the next European Union president, to end the "disgrace." The two advocates, who were joined by tennis player Yannick Noah and singer Angelique Kidjo, also said that a 2005 G8 pledge to deliver increased aid to Africa by 2010 is currently only 14% fulfilled.
"It's a terrible disgrace that the rich world has failed so miserably," Geldof said, adding, "It is a disgrace that the lucky part of the world give a small fraction of its wealth to poor who live just 12 kilometers away," referring to the smallest distance between Europe and Africa. Referring to Africa's 6% annual growth rate, Bono said that the continent is "going to take off." He added, "We are their neighbors, we should be their partners. If we fail, we have no right to that special relationship."
Bono and Geldof also said that France, which reduced its aid to Africa last year and is set to take on the E.U. presidency next month, has a special role to play in ensuring that pledges are realized and should appropriate money to the continent. French President Nicolas Sarkozy "could be a great help to us" during the six-month E.U. presidency term, Bono said. He added, "European credibility is on the line."
However, Bono and Geldof said that aid reaching the world's lowest-income countries has been effective on the ground. According to Michel Kazatchkine -- executive director of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- the lives of about 100,000 Africans are being saved monthly through programs assisted by the Global Fund. Increased assistance also has provided access to antiretroviral drugs to more than two million Africans, compared with 50,000 five years ago.
According to Bono, Britain and the U.S. are on course to meet their G8 commitments, and Germany has taken steps to meets its pledges. He also said that France needs to increase its flow of aid "in the next few weeks so we can say we have at least half of the G8 on course," adding, "Aid is a necessary foundation for the building blocks of the 21st century" (Rosemberg, AFP/Google.com, 6/18).