Anti-poverty campaigners in plea over broken aid promises

The Irish branch of the Make Poverty History campaign today urged the Irish Government to deliver on its broken promise on overseas aid to poor countries.

The Irish branch of the Make Poverty History campaign today urged the Irish Government to deliver on its broken promise on overseas aid to poor countries.

Supporters from up to 40 groups will tonight hold an all night ’sit-out’ in front of the Government buildings in Dublin where a giant digital counter will record that one child dies every three seconds in the Third World.

The stunt was planned to coincide with the UN World Summit in New York next week where Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is due to announce a new deadline on Wednesday for spending 0.7% of GNP on Overseas Development Aid.

Make Poverty History wants a 2010 deadline at the latest with clearly defined year-by-year spending targets.

The Government was heavily criticised last November after it emerged it would not keep a pledge the Taoiseach made at the Millennium Summit in New York in September 2000 to achieve 0.7 of GNP on overseas aid by 2007.

Campaign spokesman Colin Roche said today: “It’s now time for the Government to deliver on its broken promise.

“We’re calling on the Taoiseach to go to New York next week with a credible plan for delivering on the commitment made by this government to the world’s poor and to announce that we will reach the target by no later than 2010.”

Nessa Ni Chasaide of Dochas said: “A child dies needlessly of poverty in the developing world every three seconds.

“This year 12 million children will die due to poverty before their fifth birthday. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“We will be calling on the international community to take action in New York next week to show how they will meet their obligations to reduce poverty and halt the scandal of these needless deaths.”

The Irish Sit-Out event is one of many events which taking place in 75 countries worldwide in advance of the UN Summit.

A Solidarity Candle and the digital counter will record that 15,000 children will die during the 12-hour event, which begins at 6pm.

The sit-out is also supported by musicians Steve and Joe Wall of The Walls and Colin Devlin of The Devlins.

The Make Poverty History campaign, which calls for rich countries to take action in delivering more and better aid, debt cancellation and trade justice recently held Live 8 concerts across the world to coincide with the G8 summit of world leaders in Scotland.

Steve Wall said: “It’s very easy to forget what Make Poverty History was about because the Live8 gigs and the big march through Dublin happened in July.

“People think that’s it now, but it’s an ongoing problem and the poverty is still there.”

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