G8 WILL NOT MAKE POVERTY HISTORY – admits Blair

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‘Blair is no saviour for the African people,’ G8 Alternatives movement spokesman Mike Arnott told News Line yesterday.

He was responding to Blair’s statement on behalf of the G8 leaders, that: ‘It isn’t the end of poverty in Africa but it is the hope that it can be ended.’

Blair’s pledge of a ‘$50 billion uplift in aid’ was greeted with scepticism by Charles Abugre, Christian Aid’s Head of Policy.

Abugre said: ‘If the $50 billion figure is not reached this is an absolute scandal.

‘Compared to the amount of money spent by the rich nations on arms alone, $50 billion is a tiny amount. Tony Blair said not everyone would be happy with this package and he was right.’

Blair admitted that what the G8 leaders were promising ‘does not change the world tomorrow. It is a beginning, not an end. . .’

He concluded that ‘we are convinced the politics we represent will win and triumph in the end over terrorism.’

G8 Alternatives’ Arnott added: ‘The G8 was never intended to mean the end of poverty in Africa.

‘All the aid that has been announced is tied to strings which mean reductions in existing aid, also the privatisation of public services like water and electricity.’

John Rees, national secretary of George Galloway’s Respect Party told News Line: ‘Few of us thought that the G8 leaders were the solution to poverty in Africa.

‘Now we have it on Tony Blair’s authority that they cannot solve poverty in Africa and that they are committed as ever to war in Iraq.’

Make Poverty History campaign charities were bitterly disappointed with the G8 leaders.

Paul Collins, spokesman for ActionAid International said: ‘The summit has failed to deliver justice for Africa. A comprehensive package on aid, trade and debt relief has not materialised.’

He added that ‘there is still a yawning gulf between expectations raised and policy promises delivered’.

On trade, he said: ‘G8 leaders failed to end the scandal of forced liberalisation.

‘There is also deep concern that we will see a further push on liberalising services and non-agricultural markets that will threaten livelihoods and jobs in poor countries worldwide.’

Christian Aid said: ‘It is a vastly disappointing result. Millions of campaigners all over the world have been led to the top of the mountain, shown the view and now we are being frog-marched down again.’

The charity added: ‘This is a sad day for poor people in Africa and all over the world. Tony Blair says this is a start and it will not please everyone: he is horribly accurate in this because this package will not deliver poor countries from the terrorism of poverty which kills 30,000 a day.’