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G8 broken promises could cost five million lives

A new report launched today by Oxfam shows that on current trends the G8 countries could miss their promise to increase aid by 2010 by a massive $30 billion at a cost of at least five million, mainly children’s, lives.

The report, The World is Still Waiting, published a month before the G8 meet in Germany, is the first to calculate how far the world’s richest countries could miss the target of giving $50bn annually they set themselves at Gleneagles in 2005. Italy is predicted to be $8.1bn short on its promises, France $7.6bn short and Germany $7bn.

“This is a deplorable failure for which millions of women, children and men could pay with their lives. These promises are not inconsequential numbers on a balance sheet but about life and death for real people – the 50,000 people who die every day from preventable diseases and the 80 million children that will not see the inside of a classroom,” said Max Lawson of Oxfam

“The G8 must prove its promises were more than empty rhetoric and say when and how they will increase aid. There can be no excuses - the cost of inaction is too high,” added Lawson.

Despite the promises made in 2005, figures released by the OECD in April show that aid actually fell in 2006, the first time since 1997. In particular, aid from Italy, the US, Japan and Canada fell sharply. At $103bn, aid remains at just ten per cent of global military spending, and 25 per cent of what the US government has spent on the war in Iraq. It is equivalent of $1.70 for each rich country citizen per week.

“This is particularly embarrassing for Germany as the chair of this year’s summit. Chancellor Merkel must lead by example and get the G8 back on track to deliver the aid they promised. The 40 million people in 36 countries who campaigned in 2005 to end poverty will be watching and demanding action,” said Lawson.

The report shows that aid works. It has helped the Tanzanian government make primary school free, with the result that 3.5 million more children are now in school. Increased aid has also helped reduce the number of Tanzanian children dying in their first year of life by almost a third.

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