Oxfam says fighting poverty must be the priority in St. Petersburg

Published: 12 July 2006

July 13, 2006 - St. Petersburg, Russia - G8 leaders must not waste the opportunity to make progress in the fight against global poverty, says international agency Oxfam. Even if oil and security dominate the talks, leaders must keep their promises to fight disease, send children to school and tackle poverty through trade.

"Last year they made good promises, this year they must open their wallets for health and education," said Bernice Romero, Oxfam International Advocacy Director.

G8 leaders should fully finance the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria so that poor people do not die from preventable diseases.

"The vital programs of the Global Fund are in danger of disappearing due to lack of funding for the next year," said Romero. "In order to keep their promise to provide treatment for millions of HIV-infected persons, G8 leaders must immediately make commitments to the Global Fund. Time is running out for millions of people across the world; every day in Africa alone, 6,500 people die of AIDS and another 9,500 contract the HIV virus."

G8 leaders should fully fund the Education for All Fast Track Initiative so that 100 million children around the world can go to school. The plan for St. Petersburg discussions to focus on access to international universities for students and researchers and promoting technological innovation in classrooms of the G8 countries side-steps the real problem.

"The discussion must solve the most pressing education problem: getting the 100 million children currently out of school into classrooms. If leaders are really serious about their promises to fight poverty, they must emerge from this G8 summit with financial commitments to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative," says Mark Fried, Oxfam International policy advisor.

G8 leaders must ensure that World Trade Organization talks deliver a deal which allows the poor to work their way out of poverty – not one based on the narrow self-interest of rich countries.

"If there was ever a moment for world leaders to deliver on its promises on trade, it's here in St. Petersburg," said Fried. "Although Europe and America have not shown the necessary flexibility so far in the WTO negotiations, we would love to be proved wrong. Rich country leaders should drop their excessive demands of poor countries and truly rein in their agricultural subsidies."

The 36 million people who campaigned last year to make poverty history are still watching and will hold these leaders accountable for inaction on health, education and trade at this year's summit.


Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Taylor Thompson, in St. Petersburg, +7 917 507 2041, or
Lys Holdoway, +44 772 146 1342