Oxfam reaction to G8 communique

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As the G8 Summit comes to a close, international agency Oxfam criticized the leaders for their failure to deliver on their promises and for trying to divert attention by cobbling together a small initiative for maternal and child health.

“No maple leaf is big enough to hide the shame of Canada’s summit of broken promises,” said Mark Fried, spokesperson for Oxfam. “The G8’s failure will leave a sad legacy of kids out of school, denied medicines for the sick, and no food for the hungry.”

With total G8 aid frozen, their five billion dollar commitment to maternal health will likely be taken from vital areas such as education and food, cautioned Oxfam.

“This year the headline is maternal health, last year it was food. With overall aid frozen, the G8 are just shuffling the same money around to different pots,” said Fried. “The only promise that counts is the Gleneagles one to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010 and that is the one they have abandoned today.”

At the last G8 Summit, donors pledges $22 billion over three years to support agriculture in developing countries, but Oxfam calculates that at most $6 billion of this is new money and they are double counting it to pay for other initiatives, such as helping poor countries cope with climate change.

“There are a billion hungry people in the world but it seems the G8 are out to lunch. Instead of new money for old promises, we got old money, re-pledged, recycled and renamed,” said Fried. “Oxfam asks France, as next year’s G8 host, to offer real accountability and resuscitate the G8’s flagging commitment to the world’s poor.”

As focus now shifts to the G20, Oxfam is encouraged by the place development issues have garnered on the agenda, and called on leaders to give poor countries a seat at the table.

“The G20 mustn’t repeat the G8’s mistake of only inviting Africa for the photo ops,” said Fried.

Oxfam also urged the G20 to adopt a financial transaction tax to raise the funds necessary to fight poverty and climate change.

"After the scandal of the G8's broken promises, the G20 now has the chance to stand up and deliver for the world's poor,” said actor and Oxfam Global Ambassador Bill Nighy in Toronto. "A Robin Hood Tax on banks is a simple but brilliant idea to raise hundreds of billions of dollars to help millions of poor people who have been hit hardest by global economic downturn, hunger and climate change."

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