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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 02:23 GMT 03:23 UK
Blair pressed over Africa poverty
Famine victim in Malawi
Poor areas are becoming poorer, the report warns
Rock star Bob Geldof is to lead a bid on Monday to press Prime Minister Tony Blair to declare war on poverty in Africa.

The call will come in a report marking Christian Aid week that suggests nearly 600m people could be living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by 2016.

The Christian Aid agency wants Mr Blair and other leaders of the world's richest countries to change trade rules and commit more money to Africa to relieve poverty.

Just being born in sub-Saharan Africa means you'll live on average nearly 29 years less than if you were born in the UK

Daleep Mukarji
Director, Christian Aid
The "Listen to Africa" report is written as an open letter to Mr Blair and will be launched on Monday at the Commonwealth Club in London by Mr Geldof.

He will be joined by representatives from Christian Aid-funded organisations in Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi.

A copy of the report is to be presented to Mr Blair at Downing Street.

'Selfless aid'

It says it is right that Africa is treated as a priority at the forthcoming G8 summit.

Bob Geldof
Geldof will hand report over to Downing Street
But it goes on: "The need now is genuinely selfless aid to be given, targeted at projects that African people themselves say are priorities.

"And for this to happen, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the governments of donor countries like Britain, simply must 'listen to Africa'."

It says more cash is needed to help bring peace to conflict-ridden areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report says the freeing up of trade barriers has led to poor communities in countries like Ghana becoming even poorer.

Christian Aid wants the G8 countries to honour their commitments to raise overseas aid budgets to 0.7% of national wealth.

Brown plea

Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid said: "In these days of greater global interdependence, rich, industrialised countries must realise that Africa's problems are also their problems.

Gordon Brown
Brown is pressing for more aid spending
"While we in the west have benefited from huge advances in technology and greater wealth, in some parts of Africa things are getting worse.

"Just being born in sub-Saharan Africa means you'll live on average nearly 29 years less than if you were born in the UK."

Last week, Chancellor Gordon Brown said an extra $1bn was urgently needed to help the world's poorest countries cope with the global economic downturn.

He also attacked so-called Vulture Funds, which have been accused of preying on the world's most heavily indebted countries.

'Banish ignorance'

He branded the funds - which buy up countries' debt at a knockdown prices and then take them to court to recover the full amount - "morally outrageous".

If globalisation is to considered a success, the real test is that the world's children must become its beneficiaries not its victims

Gordon Brown
At a speech to a United Nations summit on children in New York, Mr Brown set out an ambitious plan to "banish ignorance and poverty from Earth".

He also called for the richest countries to back a World Bank initiative to ensure the commitment to providing primary education for all by 2015.

He repeated his pledge to "substantially" increase the share of the UK's national income on aid.

And called on other countries in Europe and America to follow suit.

"If globalisation is to be considered a success, the real test is that the world's children must become its beneficiaries not its victims."

Campaigner, Bob Geldof
"Deeper, wider and fuller debt relief would be a big plus"
Christian Aid director Dr Daleep Mukarji
"We need to have a war on poverty in Africa"
The BBC's Andrew Harding
reports on the lack of basic facilities like toilets in the slums of Nairobi
See also:

10 May 02 | UK Politics
Brown condemns poverty 'vultures'
12 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Brown pledges more aid spending
19 Nov 01 | UK Politics
US cool towards UK aid proposal
01 Oct 01 | Business
Poverty warning after US attacks
07 Mar 02 | Business
Budget rows begin early
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