HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, (Reuters) – World powers on Friday pledged $60 billion to fight AIDS and other killer diseases ravaging Africa but development campaigners complained the Group of Eight had pledged little fresh cash for the poor.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting G8 leaders and leaders of five African states, trumpeted the agreement as a showpiece outcome of the three-day summit, along with Thursday’s deal to push for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. “We are conscious of our obligations and want to fulfil the promises we made. And we will do that,” said Merkel.
Campaigners complain that rich nations have fallen behind on commitments made to double development aid at a summit in 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland and were unimpressed with Friday’s deal, which restated the pledges made two years ago.
Leaders said they would provide at least $60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, global diseases that have devastated African countries and their economies. But the declaration set out no specific timetable, saying the money would flow “over the coming years”. Neither did it break down individual countries’ contributions or spell out how much of the sum had been previously promised.
“I am exasperated,” Irish rock star and anti-poverty campaigner Bono told Reuters. “I think it is deliberately the language of obfuscation. It is deliberately misleading.”
U.S. President George W. Bush last week announced plans to double Washington’s financial commitment to the anti-AIDS fight to $30 billion over five years, which was included in the G8’s headline figure of $60 billion.
Bush missed some of the morning sessions at the summit because of a stomach ailment but rejoined the leaders later.
British aid agency Oxfam said the G8 will fall far short of its Gleneagles pledges. “We must not be distracted by big numbers. What the $60 billion headline means at best is just $3 billion extra in aid by 2010,” said an Oxfam policy adviser. “Before this summit, Oxfam showed the G8 were set to miss their 2010 target by a massive $30 billion. Today’s announcement may only close that gap to $27 billion,” he added.
Steve Cockburn of the Stop Aids Campaign said the pledge fell short of U.N. targets obliging G8 nations to spend $15 billion per year to combat AIDS alone through to 2010.
In comparison, the deal looks like committing them to about $12 billion per year for all three diseases.
Leaders also reiterated an overall pledge made in 2005 to raise annual aid levels by $50 billion by 2010, $25 billion of which is for Africa. “The important thing is that we have recommitted ourselves to all the commitments we made a couple of years ago,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair who hosted the 2005 meeting.
Campaigners were not convinced.
“Despite last-minute face saving measures, the G8 has failed its credibility test on Africa,” said Collins Magalasi, ActionAids’s country director for South Africa.
Major powers were deadlocked on a compromise on the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo with Russia resisting a French plan to delay a U.N. vote on its independence in exchange for recognising that Belgrade must give up its claim eventually.
Russia backs Belgrade’s refusal to give up sovereignty and has threatened to veto a Security Council vote. The West thinks Kosovo’s independence is inevitable and says delays may stoke violence in the Albanian-dominated province.
Officials also discussed Iran and confirmed plans to back “further measures” — in other words more U.N. sanctions — against Tehran if it continues to reject U.N. demands to halt uranium enrichment in its nuclear programme.
G8 leaders at the summit agreed on Thursday to pursue “substantial” cuts in greenhouse gases to combat global warming.