More than 3 Million Face Death while Berlusconi and the G8 Fiddle

For Immediate Release

Contact: 
Phone
+1 617 482 1211 (Toll-free 1-800-77-OXFAM)

More than 3 Million Face Death while Berlusconi and the G8 Fiddle

WASHINGTON - Aid money the G8 has
promised but won’t deliver could save more than 3 million lives, Oxfam
said today as leaders gathered for the summit in L’Aquila, Italy.

These, and many more lives and livelihoods are at risk unless urgent
action is taken to protect poor people from the triple threat of the
economic crisis, rising food prices and climate change. Sub Saharan
Africa alone is expected to lose $245bn this year as a result of the
global slump but will receive only about $5bn in additional aid.

Yet rather than delivering on his own aid promises and encouraging
other countries to meet theirs, Silvio Berlusconi, G8 chair and Italian
president is attempting to wriggle out of his commitments to the
world’s poorest. He has cut aid and pushed the G8 to adopt a new ‘whole
of country’ approach that would use creative accounting to hide broken
promises.

Max Lawson, Oxfam senior policy advisor, said:
“Like a modern day Nero, Berlusconi is fiddling while Africa burns. G8
leaders must get serious and ensure this Summit delivers a concrete
plan to get aid promises back on track, and to protect poor people from
the triple threat of the economic, food and climate crises.”

According to the OECD, G8 leaders will fall short by as much as
$23bn in their 2005 promise to increase annual aid by $50bn over five
years. Oxfam calculates this money could be used to pay for HIV
treatment for 500,000, services for mothers and newborns that would
save a further 2.5 million, child health services that would save a
further 600,000 lives.

On average, rich countries outside the G8 give more than twice as
much of their national income in overseas aid (0.54%), as G8 members
(0.23%).

A G8 in crisis...

Farida Bena, Oxfam International Italian spokesperson
said: “It is time that G8 countries paid their fair share of aid to
reduce poverty in Africa and elsewhere. Why can other rich countries
put their hands in their pocket whilst most of the G8 refuses to do so?
A G8 that refuses to keep its word, a G8 that fails to meet the
unprecedented challenges facing the world’s poor – that is a G8 in
crisis.”

Far from showing leadership in their role as G8 chair, Italy is
cutting its aid to poor countries. Last year Italy cut their aid
through the Foreign Affairs Ministry by a staggering 56%. France too
has barely increased aid despite promises to do so and other countries
are not bringing the ambition needed to the table this year – when it
is most needed.

The ‘whole of country approach’ promoted by Berlusconi could allow
countries to count money charities, philanthropists, companies and
trade links deliver to developing countries as part of their assistance
to poor countries. Adding these disparate elements to produce a large
cash figure of little value would allow countries like Italy and France
to deflect attention from their lamentable performance on aid. 

An emergency plan is needed

Instead of muddying the waters with creative accounting, Oxfam is
calling on the G8 to agree an emergency plan to get their aid
commitments back on track ahead of the 2010 deadline. The need for
increased aid is shown by the $245bn economic black hole facing Africa
as a result of a reduction in expected growth from 6.7 per cent to 1
per cent. By contrast, aid will only increase by $4.6 billion this
year, IMF special drawing rights and other measures agreed at the G20
add only another $16bn. This falls way short of what is needed.

Lawson said: “The world has a triple crisis on it hands. The
economic crisis is destroying jobs, reducing remittances and forcing
cuts in health and education services for some of the world’s poorest
people. Africa is set to lose $245bn this year alone yet the response
from rich countries remains pitifully small.

“The food crisis has pushed another 200 million people into hunger –
more than one in six of the world’s people now do not have enough to
eat. The climate crisis contributes to severe weather that is forces
people from their homes and destroys their livelihoods every day.”

Bena said:”Over the next few days, the G8 must show the leadership
the world needs – there won’t be any second chances to save these 3
million people later.  The G8 cannot turn their back on the poorest
people now – this must be a week of bold action.”

###

Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

Share This Article

More in: