More than three million face death while the G8 fiddle: Oxfam

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Oxfam says that aid money the G8 has promised but won’t deliver could save more than three million lives.  
The aid agency was commenting as leaders of the Group of Eight gathered for a summit in L`Aquila, Italy.
“These, and many more lives and livelihoods are at risk unless urgent action is taken to protect poor people from the triple threat of the economic crisis, rising food prices and climate change”, Oxfam said in a statement earlier today.
Sub Saharan Africa alone is expected to lose $245billion (R1966 billion) this year as a result of the global slump but will receive only about $5bn (R40bn) in additional aid, Oxfam said in the statement received by defenceWeb.

Oxfam said that “rather than delivering on his own aid promises and encouraging other countries to meet theirs, Silvio Berlusconi, G8 chair and Italian president is attempting to wriggle out of his commitments to the worlds poorest”.

It says he has cut aid and pushed the G8 to adopt a new ‘whole of country` approach that would use creative accounting to hide broken promises.

Oxfam senior policy advisor Max Lawson said like “a modern day Nero, Berlusconi is fiddling while Africa burns. G8 leaders must get serious and ensure this Summit delivers a concrete plan to get aid promises back on track, and to protect poor people from the triple threat of the economic, food and climate crises.”

According to the OECD, G8 leaders will fall short by as much as $23bn (R184 bn) in their 2005 promise to increase annual aid by $50bn (R401bn) over five years. Oxfam calculates this money could be used to pay for HIV treatment for 500 000, services for mothers and newborns that would save a further 2.5 million, child health services that would save a further 600 000 lives.

On average, rich countries outside the G8 give more than twice as much of their national income in overseas aid (0.54%), as G8 members (0.23%).  

Farida Bena, Oxfam International Italian spokeswoman, said “it is time that G8 countries paid their fair share of aid to reduce poverty in Africa and elsewhere. Why can other rich countries put their hands in their pocket whilst most of the G8 refuses to do so? A G8 that refuses to keep its word, a G8 that fails to meet the unprecedented challenges facing the world`s poor­ that is a G8 in crisis.”

Far from showing leadership in their role as G8 chair, she says Italy is cutting its aid to poor countries. Last year Italy cut their aid through the Foreign Affairs Ministry by a staggering 56%. France too has barely increased aid despite promises to do so and other countries are not bringing the ambition needed to the table this year when it is most needed.
“The ‘whole of country approach` promoted by Berlusconi could allow countries to count money charities, philanthropists, companies and trade links deliver to developing countries as part of their assistance to poor countries”.

Adding these disparate elements to produce a large cash figure of little value would allow countries like Italy and France to deflect attention from their lamentable performance on aid.  

Oxfam says instead of muddying the waters with creative accounting, G8 countries must agree on an emergency plan to get their aid commitments back on track.

G8 Leaders  at Summit in 2008