Heiligendamm, Germany (AFP) Jun 08, 2007
Rock star activist Bono led attacks on the Group of Eight's 60-billion dollar pledge to fight killer diseases Friday, accusing world powers of using "bureau-babble" to hide their failure to help Africa. The U2 frontman, who lobbied US President George W. Bush and other G8 leaders at their annual summit, said a package to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria was full of false promises.
"Sixty billion dollars sounds like an awful lot of money but it's cumulative and I understand that they think that rock stars might not be able to add and subtract or spell or read," he told reporters.
"This labyrinthine language is a maze, it's deliberate, we're supposed to get lost in this maze."
The total funding was a global figure and not focused entirely on Africa, he said. It was not tied to a clear timeline and it included funds already pledged.
In its own analysis that of the 60 billion dollars (45 billion euros) pledged, Bono's DATA pressure group found that a maximum of 2.4 billion dollars in additional aid would go to Africa by 2010 -- and three billion dollars globally.
Fellow musician-campaigner Bob Geldof was equally damning of the statement. Friday's deal showed that the G8 had barely gone a step beyond commitments made two years ago at a summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, he said.
"What happened over the last two days was bollocks," he said.
"The richest countries in the world, trillions of dollars swirling around that table, smiling in that stupid tent chair with the candy stripes. Do me a favour: Get serious, guys. This wasn't serious, this was a farce, a total farce."
Oxfam International called the G8 pledge "a failure" that did not get the club of rich nations "anywhere near back on track to meet overall promises on aid to Africa."
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said G8 leaders were "talking out of both sides of their mouths."
It added: "Although the G8 acknowledges that access to medicines is a challenge, they proposed no sufficient solutions."
Bono and Geldof blamed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for blocking a more generous deal.
"It's as if we have the place bugged because everybody tells us," Bono said of his sources at the summit's closed-doors negotiations. "And we know who's causing the trouble and who isn't. And we know that Canada blocked progress."
Geldof said insiders had told him that British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is leaving office this month, had made an impassioned plea for more aid.
"I'm really sorry for Tony Blair. No legacy stuff -- that's academic and I personally don't think that matters to him. This was his last hurrah," he said.
"He pushed this to the point of exhaustion, so well done him, he had nothing to lose so he went out all guns blazing."
Geldof also fingered African leaders invited to join the meeting as failing to take a stand for their people.
"The other thing to remember is that the African leaders were here and as usual they did nothing, they just accept what's happened," he said.
Kumi Naidoo, chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, contrasted the 16,000 police officers deployed to guard the summit with the 7,000 African Union peacekeepers sent to protect civilians in war-torn Darfur.
The urgency of the fight against AIDS had only increased in recent years, he said.
"What we are talking about in Africa is a passive genocide and a silent tsunami that is underway," he told reporters. "Every single day 6,000 are perishing from HIV/AIDS alone."
Bono said that despite the failure to win a better deal in Germany, his drive would continue.
"We musn't lose momentum. It's a marathon when it should have been a sprint," Bono said.
Geldof said their campaign would continue next year under the Japanese G8 presidency.
"How many times do we go to a new, fresh country and invent events, gather the writers and the academics and the people to concerts and symposia?" he asked.
"So we move on to some obscure village in Japan, I suppose, next year in the middle of paddyfields, and I'll see you there, dude."
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleUS Firm To Trial Bird Flu Vaccine In Indonesia And Hong Kong
Jakarta (AFP) May 30, 2007
A US company will soon conduct clinical trials of a bird flu vaccine in Singapore and Hong Kong, a health ministry official said here Wednesday. Baxter Healthcare will carry out the trials in the two nations using a strain of the virus found in Indonesia, the nation worst hit by bird flu with 77 deaths, the official said.
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