Bono and Geldof: France and others fail to deliver Africa aid

G-8 nations called on to fulfill pledges to fight poverty and AIDS.

Bono, Bob Geldof, and other celebrities pressed the world's wealthiest countries Wednesday to come through with the financial aid they've pledged for Africa.

The Irish rock stars, along with Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo, tennis star-turned-singer Yannick Noah, and aid workers presented a new report that found the Group of Eight, have collectively donated a fraction of the total $22 billion in extra funds pledged.

In 2005, the G-8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain, and the United States) agreed at Gleneagles, Scotland, to double its aid to Africa by 2010.

"What this big, long, exact, cold, and brutal analysis shows us is that halfway to this historic date of 2010 – halfway – these wealthy countries... have delivered 14 percent. How tragic is that?" Mr. Geldof told reporters in Paris. "What a failure for all of us."

The 2008 report by DATA, an advocacy group aimed at wiping out extreme poverty and AIDS in Africa, says targeted aid is working.

• Some 29 million children in Africa entered school for the first time between 1999 and 2005 because of debt relief and increased aid.

• More than 2 million Africans diagnosed with AIDS are on retroviral drugs, up from 50,000 in 2002.

• About 26 million children were immunized against diseases from 2001 to 2006.

But the report also said countries are falling behind in their commitments.

France's assistance to sub-Saharan Africa fell by $66 million (€43 million) from 2006 to 2007, the report says, and Germany, Italy, and Canada are off "track." "More is needed" from Japan. But the United States and Britain appear set to meet their targets by 2010, it says.

The DATA report says France is among the worst performers and has so far delivered less than 7 percent of funds promised at Gleneagles.

The campaigners singled out France because it is about to take over the rotating European Union presidency and they hope a French aid surge could prompt the other European members of the G-8 – Germany, Britain, and Italy – to do more.

They also want France, one of the main beneficiaries of the disputed EU Common Agricultural Policy, to make more of an effort to reform the subsidy system, which campaigners say is detrimental to African farmers.

"I have high hopes for President [Nicolas] Sarkozy. I believe his hard-headedness might be necessary to work on some of these problems," said Bono.

• Material from the Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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