CAFOD says US has squandered chance to fight poverty

 CAFOD has accused leaders at the New York Summit of squandering a golden opportunity to push the fight against poverty to the forefront of world action and fulfil their promises to the world's poor. However, the agancy says, the creation of a UN emergency fund for rapid response offers a glimmer of hope at an otherwise deeply disappointing World Summit. Spokesman Henry Northover said: "It's utterly shameless that with ten years to go before the Millennium Development Goals are supposed to be achieved, world leaders have failed to give an irreversible push to liberating millions of people from the scourge of poverty. "We welcome their new move to set up an emergency fund but this was such a huge chance to get right the policies on aid, trade and debt and to ensure they work for the poor. Instead, what we've seen is a limited UN resolution based on what heads of states could get away with rather than what impoverished people need." A number of basic benchmarks, which would see the Millennium Development Goals on their way to success, were not met at the summit. Instead, they agreed on little more than the limited steps taken by the G8, with no specific financial commitments by developed countries to help meet the poverty target. This includes a failure to agree a timetable to reach their 35-year-old promise to reach the 0.7 per cent target of income for aid. CAFOD campaigners were among the quarter of a million people from around the UK that marched for more and better aid, debt cancellation and trade ustice at the Make Poverty History rally in Edinburgh in July and the 140 million people worldwide who have joined the campaign. On 10 September, on the eve of the New York summit, millions of men, women and children in over ninety countries, including the UK, held peaceful marches, attended political concerts and wrapped iconic buildings with white bands - the symbol of the Make Poverty History campaign. The one agreement that will lift the spirits of those hoping for a positive Summit outcome is the CERF. The $150 million of new money promised immediately by six nations, including the UK, to set up the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) means that the UN will no longer have to wait with cap in hand before responding to a sudden disaster. Other countries are expected to pledge money in the future. CAFOD says that although the pledges are minimal at the moment, it is a start and means help will reach those in need within days rather than months. Forgotten emergencies will also be able to receive more funding. Early intervention will not only save lives but also money, as seen in the African Sahel last year with locust invasions. The poor response to a $ nine million appeal to spray the locust larvae turned into a $100 million request after the locusts had infested eight countries in the region. Henry Northover said: "World leaders have fallen far behind public opinion on the importance of these issues. Campaigners can be proud of what they have achieved and the small steps that have been taken so far. However, much more needs to be done and we'll continue to pile pressure on Governments to fulfil the promises they've made already and go further to end the scandal of poverty and ensure justice for all."

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