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British Caritas targets hypocrisy of G8 leaders

The British Caritas affiliate CAFOD says the G8 leaders must not be distracted by the Iraqi conflict and the war on terrorism from tackling the scandal of poverty in Africa.

In a statement issued before CAFOD says the leaders of the eight developed countries "have failed to live up to their meagre commitments on reducing poverty".

It mentioned the leaders' commitment at their summit last year that "no country genuinely committed to poverty reduction, good governance and economic reform will be denied the chance to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through lack of finance."

CAFOD says that Ethiopia, Niger and Rwanda are being prevented from doing just that. The three African countries have drawn up plans consistent with meeting the Millennium Development Goals, a series of targets aimed at cutting poverty by half by 2015 in them world's poorest countries. Yet these three countries are being deprived of the necessary money to put those plans into action because the extra finance would take them above their debt sustainability agreements with the World Bank and IMF.

CAFOD's Head of Policy George Gelber said the cases of Ethiopia, Niger and Rwanda highlight the "hypocrisy" of the G8 leaders.

"On the one hand, the G8 leaders come up with a scheme to fight poverty in the Third World, but then they deny poor country access to the funding," he said. "This is either a failure in joined-up thinking or, more worryingly, exposes the emptiness of G8 promises on reducing poverty."

CAFOD says G8 leaders can make the debt relief mechanism work by basing it on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. CAFOD is also calling on G8 leaders not just to talk to African countries, but also to act on what they say.

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2 Jun 2003