U2 front man Bono has criticized Group of Eight countries for not coming through with their pledged financial aid for Africa, adding that Canada’s prime minister risks tainting his legacy by turning his back on the continent.
The Irish rock star and activist was joined by Bob Geldof and other celebrities as they presented a new report that said the G8 countries have collectively donated a fraction of the US$22 billion in extra funds they pledged in 2005 to be paid by 2010.
"I’m sure Stephen Harper’s not a bad guy. But you know, the effect of losing Canada’s leadership on these global issues, it’s something that he should really think about," Bono said at the news conference in Paris.
"When he leaves office, to be the guy who’s responsible for declining aid flows when Canada had an economy that was a surplus economy — not a good thing to have on your résumé."
According to the report by Data, an advocacy group aimed at wiping out extreme poverty and AIDS in Africa, targeted aid is working but countries are falling behind in their commitments.
"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 per cent. How tragic is that?" Geldof told reporters in Paris. "What a failure for all of us."
The report said France's assistance to sub-Saharan Africa fell $66 million from 2006 to 2007, while Germany, Italy and Canada are off "track," and that "more is needed" from Japan.
However, the report said, the United States and Britain appear set to meet their targets by 2010.
"If France increases aid in the next few weeks we can say that we have half of the G8. If we lose France we lose the G8," Bono said. "And we lose this moment in time, when people got organized all over the world to stand beside their brothers and sisters in Africa, these noble royal people, who are our neighbours in Europe.
According to the report:
- 2.1 million Africans are on life-saving AIDS drugs, up from 50,000 in 2002.
- 26 million children were immunized against life-threatening diseases from 2001 to 2006.
- 29 million children in Africa entered school for the first time between 1999 and 2005 because of debt relief and increased aid.