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Bono's AIDS Group
Accuses G-8 of Failing to Meet Pledge

Bono's AIDS Group
Accuses G-8 of Failing to Meet Pledge

An aid group founded by U2 frontman Bono calculates that the Group of Eight top industrialized nations has delivered only $3 billion of the additional $25 billion promised for Africa for everything from AIDS drugs to training peacekeepers.

An aid group founded by U2 front man Bono calculates that the Group of Eight top industrialized nations has delivered only $3 billion of the additional $25 billion promised for Africa for everything from AIDS drugs to training peacekeepers.

Now the Africans and their allies want a new system to make sure rich nations come through.

The G-8 opened their summit in northern Japan this week with a discussion with eight African leaders over the progress in aid increases to the continent - and how the wealthy countries have fallen short.

Along with Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and the head of the Africa Union Commission, the G-8 discussed setting up a mechanism to measure their progress in fulfilling pledges and to hold them to their word, said leaders and aid groups.

"When the G-8 leaders make various commitments, it's important to have a monitoring system," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who joined the talks. "I think countries need to deliver on their promises, and that was the tone that was generally set in the discussion."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among leaders who proposed that top Africa advisers in each G-8 country track promises and periodically compare notes with African countries on compliance, a Sarkozy aide said. Aid groups said Japan had floated a similar proposal for aid goals.

"The good thing about the discussion was that it became quite clear that the Africans want to take their fate more and more into their own hands," Merkel said. "But they also demand that we fulfill our promises and keep on helping them."

The G-8 - the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and Russia - have been making a lot of well-publicized promises at their summits.

At the meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, the group laid out an ambitious plan to boost aid to Africa by $25 billion a year by 2010 - more than doubling aid to the continent compared to 2004.

Last year in Heiligendamm, Germany, the G-8 followed that up with a $60 billion pledge to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa.

Bono's aid group, ONE, calculated that the G-8 had delivered only $3 billion of the additional $25 billion for Africa and that development assistance for agriculture - increasingly important because of rising food prices - had fallen as a percentage of total aid from 1980 to 2004.

A plan to stop tuberculosis has been significantly underfunded, 33 million African children still do not have access to school, and drugs for HIV/AIDS patients were available to only 30% of Africans needing them - far short of the goal of 80%, a report by ONE said.

Charles Abani, regional director for Oxfam in Nigeria, said one problem was that countries recycle pledges, announcing aid in one area such as education, and then moving the same money to another area to meet new demands - meaning the total amount of money promised does not increase.

"This whole business of announcing and reannouncing the same sums of money in different configurations ... seems to be a habit now," he said, calling for a mechanism "to get us to a point where we can work out when people are recommitting the same money that they've committed time and time again." (Joseph Coleman AP)

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