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G8 leaders vow to help Africa, but no big announcements

G8 leaders' focus on the Middle East crisis has lead to Africa's neglect, said ActionAid agency.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2006 13:55 IST

The select G8 group of the world's richest nations promised on Sunday to help build a peaceful and democratic Africa but disappointed aid agencies by announcing no big initiatives.

In a statement at their Summit in Russia's second city, the leaders pledged to pursue existing efforts to shore up democracy, support aid work, increase debt relief and help Africa achieve a fair trade balance.

"Our goals remain a democratic, prosperous and peaceful Africa," they said. "We will continue to give our full support to African efforts to secure this."

Matt Phillips, head of campaigns at the British charity Save the Children, said the pledge was not enough.

"The fact there have not been steps backward will be cold comfort for the 800 families in Africa who lost a child today because they couldn't afford a doctor's bill," he said.

"They have done enough to keep their toe in the water, but what they have not done is really put their backs into what is needed."

The statement by the G8 nations Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States reviewed the commitments made at last year's summit in Gleneagles, Scotland under the British presidency.

The G8 club said it had made "good progress" on debt relief and the fight against corruption and was working hard to deliver promises on access to clean water, education, infrastructure and in combatting infectious diseases.

In particular, it pointed to its support for African peacekeeping forces, notably in providing funding, military hardware and assistance to the African Union mission in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Moussa Faye, the Senegal director for the ActionAid agency, said G8 leaders focused on the raging Middle East crisis should not neglect Africa.

"Last year, the G8 reaped political capital from their pledges," he added. "But one year on, progress has been unacceptably patchy and slow."