The G8 summit opens next
week in Hokkaido, Japan. The meeting brings together the leaders from the
United States, Japan, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Britain and Canada, and
comes amid concerns over soaring food prices and shortages and global warming.
of the groups following the G8 developments is the humanitarian organization
ActionAid. Shafqat Munir is a chief spokesman for the group. From Islamabad,
Pakistan, he spoke to VOA's Joe De Capua about their main concerns for the
are focusing on four areas. Our focus is on Africa, because already the
communication leak says that they (G8 leaders) have backtracked from their
commitment in 2005. But now they are backtracking on the committed amount to
Africa. (The) second concern is climate change. The third one is the food
crisis because it increases poverty…. The food stocks are there with some of
the big countries, but they're not releasing it. Some of the countries have
raised their export rates and there are certain export bans on it. So we want
that all bans should be lifted and there should not be any restriction on food
supply to the people. The fourth point is we are focusing on health and
HIV/AIDS," he says.
promises of aid were made to Africa at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles,
Scotland. Munir says those promises have not been kept. He says these are "the
promises regarding the $25 billion that they need to give by 2010." He says
that now G8 leaders are neither mentioning the amount nor the 2010 deadline.
ActionAid spokesman says the NGO would like to see some immediate action taken
on the food crisis. "Japan should take the lead and Japan should announce that
it is releasing its 1.5 million metric tons of rice, which are in the stocks in
Japan. Japan should take the lead in releasing this, and other G8
leaders…should also come up with their support on the food thing," he says.
biofuels, he says, "They are depleting the food security of the poor people in
the world." ActionAid says rich nations should ensure that their production of
biofuels does not affect food security, because the corn used to make a tank of
ethanol for a car could feed a family for many months.
ActionAid also says G8 leaders are
backtracking on their commitment to greatly increase funding for HIV/AIDS
programs, as they promised at Gleneagles in 2005.