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Humanitarian Organizations Lobby For Full Funding Of AIDS Initiative - 2003-09-03

Humanitarian and faith-based organizations are calling on President Bush and Congress to approve 3 billion dollars to fight HIV/AIDS during the next fiscal year.

Nearly a dozen organizations have started a lobbying and advertising campaign. They say they want full funding of the president’s 5-year, 15-billion dollar AIDS initiative. They say 3-billion dollars should be spent in the first year of the program, not the two billion requested in the president’s budget.

Serge Duss is the director of public policy for World Vision, one of the groups calling for greater AIDS spending. He told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua that the purpose of the campaign “is to hold the Congress and the president accountable for the promise that they had made back in May.” He says Congress and the White House say, “there isn’t capacity to fully absorb 3 billion dollars in fiscal year 2004.”

Mr. Duss says, “Based on our experience and practice in the field, that money certainly can be absorbed and is needed now, not later.” The extra $1 billion, he says, could easily be used for the 14 million children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS.

The World Vision official says non-governmental and non-profit organizations are among the groups that can best ensure the money will be well spent. Mr. Duss says the fight to get the additional $1 billion will be tough, considering the cost of the Iraq occupation.

However, he says the president and Congress made a promise and “we’re going to hold them to it. The future of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean must not be forgotten.”

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