Leaders of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations gathered in Germany’s Baltic resort of Heiligendamm for three days of talks on a number of topics, including climate change, economic issues and debt relief for Africa. VOA English to Africa Service reporter Kim Lewis covered the summit and spoke live from the International Media Center with VOA Africa News Tonight host Chinedu Offor. On Wednesday, Lewis said the summit would focus on three areas: the environment and climate change, integrating Africa into the global economy, and corporate trade. Lewis said President Bush had a working lunch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on other issues relating to aid to Africa. Lewis interviewed Oxfam’s senior policy adviser, Max Lawson, about emergency pre-summit talks over the official G8 communiqué. Lawson said there was a lot of disagreement on climate change issues and Africa issues.
AID PROMISED AT LAST SUMMIT NOT DELIVERED
Lawson said the G8 had not delivered the aid money already promised at the last G8 Summit, in Scotland. He said that’s “why Oxfam is here, to really try and [exert pressure relating to] the money issue, and to make them deliver that vital money for HIV, for schools, for hospitals.” He said the money is desperately needed now to fight poverty in Africa.
Lawson said he lived in Malawi for two years and observed first hand the problems facing the health care, including the shortage of doctors and other personnel. He said a million more health care workers are needed in Africa over the next few years if everyone is to have access to health care.
Lawson said 4,000 children die every day from problems stemming from dirty water, and Oxfam is promoting free basic health care, particularly for mothers and small children. He says there are simple, inexpensive health measures that could easily be applied. He says the money from the G8 is needed to save lives.
SIGNS OF PROGRESS
The Oxfam observer said some progress is being made. For example, President Bush has announced an increase in money for HIV/AIDs, and Germany has announced some increases. But Lawson said peer pressure is needed to get some countries to actually contribute the amounts they promised; he said iot’s a matter of life and death.”
(Note: This G8 Interview was broadcast on June 7, 2007)