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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
G8 extends debt relief programme
A Kenyan man in a village
Africa is the only part of the developing world no better off than 25 years ago.
On the last day of their summit, G8 leaders have agreed to extend a debt relief scheme for the world's poorest countries by two years.

The initiative, managed by the IMF, provides support to 27 nations, mostly from Africa, but was due to expire at the end of this year.

But there has reportedly been no agreement on a British proposal to cancel all debts owed.

Earlier the group called on Sudan to disarm militias in western Darfur.

Blaming the rebels for massive human rights violations, they urged both sides to respect the ceasefire.

Poverty trap

Earlier the G8 leaders, meeting on Sea Island off the coast of Georgia, met with six African leaders - from Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda - to discuss a plan to train 75,000 peacekeepers for Africa, and programme to co-ordinate research to find a vaccine for HIV/Aids.

Africa remains the only part of the developing world no better off than it was 25 years ago.

Extend for another two years debt-relief program for the world's poorest nations
Pursue agreement for substantial relief of Iraq's $120bn in foreign debt
Back US proposal to accelerate development of HIV vaccine
The Middle East Quartet to meet before the end of the month
End-of-July target for an outline deal on global trade talks
Measures to halt transfers of nuclear technology
Endorse airline security improvements

This is despite many initiatives in past decades - from the Brandt Commission and Live Aid in the 1980s to more recent efforts such as Washington's Aids fund and Africa's own Nepad partnership.

Growth rates and life expectancy are falling and poverty is growing amid the Aids epidemic and continuing war, corruption and bad governance.

Per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa is now estimated to be $200 lower than in 1974.

Twenty-three of the 27 countries that have qualified for debt relief under the so-called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative are in Africa.

Human rights violated

Originally conceived as a way to relieve $100bn of debt for countries that have sound government, the plan has in fact only cancelled $31bn so far.

How much progress has been made on debt relief?

"We are committed to fully implementing the HIPC initiative and to supporting debt sustainability in the poorest countries through debt relief and grant financing," the G8 leaders said in a joint statement.

Now the initiative will run until 31 December 2006.

The G8 statement on Sudan said the group - made up of the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia - looked to the United Nations to lead the international effort to avert "a major disaster" in Darfur - described as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"There are continuing reports of gross violations of human rights, many with an ethnic dimension," the statement said.

"We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately and fully respect the ceasefire, allow unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need, and create the conditions for the displaced to return safely to their homes."

"We call especially on the Sudanese government to disarm immediately the Janjaweed and other armed groups which are responsible for massive human rights violations in Darfur," said the statement.

1 Access to Sea Island restricted to G8 delegates and local residents
2 All traffic on Torras Causeway monitored at checkpoints
3 Boating restrictions in place in some areas around Sea Island
4 G8 delegates not staying on Sea Island are staying in Savannah. Armed coastguards, National Guard troops and helicopters on patrol


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