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CAFOD asks G8 to put poverty first

 British aid agency 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. CAFOD says leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia have failed to live up to their meagre commitments on reducing poverty. G8 leaders, golden promise at their summit last year in Kananaskis was 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 says: "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. This is either a failure in joined-up thinking or, more worryingly, exposes the emptiness of G8 promises on reducing poverty." All analyses show that most African countries will miss out on the Millennium Development Goals through lack of finance. Only two countries, Uganda and Mozambique, have the economic growth consistent with the target of halving the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015. 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. The agency is calling on the G8 to reform its trade policies that harm Third World producers. It is also demanding that the G8 to back a global regulation of oil, gas and mining companies as part of the Publish What You Pay campaign.