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G8 Leaders End Summit Pledging $60 Billion to Combat Disease in Africa

G8 leaders wrapped up their 2008 summit with a pledge of $60 billion for Africa to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. It also renewed a commitment made two years ago to increase aid to Africa by 50 billion dollars a year by 2010.

At the close of the meeting, the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon also pressed Sudan to accept a larger hybrid peacekeeping force for Darfur made up of African Union and UN troops. He said he would make more details available later in June.

At the summit, African leaders swore to do their part in alleviating poverty, disease and hunger. Ghanaian President John Kufuor told the press, “Africa expects the G8 to deliver on promises, and on Africa’s part, we are committed to delivering, so there will be real partnership. We also have said we will reinstitute the mutual accountability organ which will ensure that both sides deliver on promises.”

Some NGOs remained skeptical. OXFAM spokesperson, Beatrice Karanja, called the pledge to give 60 billion dollars to Africa in increased support a “grave disappointment.”

Karanja said “They didn’t give a specific time band commitment of the pledge, so, is it 60 billion in 60 million years, or six years? It doesn’t give us a clear goal that we can use to hold them more accountable and more measurable to their commitments. We should not be flabbergasted by the amount of money, but…we don’t know when they are going to start implementing programs and giving the money out.”

Karanja said she did not think G8 leaders were pressured by protestors at the meeting, but she added, “It does not really help when you have protestors that create friction between the leaders and the other peaceful NGOs who are lobbying to get the mark right and get the leaders on track. [Media coverage of protests] has overshadowed the fact that [G8 leaders] have not been talking at the levels and depth they should be talking at.”

Fifty billion dollars has been promised to Africa to promote climate change. Karanja said, “It’s a lot of money but at the same time, we are the continent suffering the most, but we are the least responsible [for climate change]. So we need to be guided through that and shown how to spend that money.”

She said NGOs and civil society must keep their voices strong and loud, and get citizens in Africa involved in reminding the leaders of the poor conditions on the ground, and the need to deliver promised aid.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the press Africa will again be a top priority at the 2008 G8 summit in Tokyo.

(Note: This interview was broadcast on June 8th, 2007)