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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

G8 Renews Its Promise to Help Africa

KUHLUNGSBORN, Germany -- The Group of Eight on Friday reaffirmed its pledge to lift Africa out of poverty and earmarked $60 billion toward AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria prevention.

But aid groups said the declaration still fell short of the goals first unveiled two years ago in Scotland amid a wave of concern about Africa that saw leading musicians, social activists and British Prime Minister Tony Blair urging immediate help for the continent.

The reaffirmation comes after the G8 agreed on another program worth more than $60 billion in aid for Africa, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Another German official, Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, said the money was earmarked for fighting malaria and tuberculosis, as well as AIDS. About half would come from the United States, with Germany contributing 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) from now to 2015.

"The situation [in Africa] is simply so dramatic," she said in Berlin.

One activist said the move was not enough. "What we came here for was a comprehensive funding plan. Instead, in the last three days, the G8 have diluted their commitment to universal access," said Aditi Sharma, the head of anti-poverty group ActionAid's HIV and AIDS campaign.

The G8 declaration came on the third and final day of the annual summit, held this year in nearby Heiligendamm.

"At the same time, we stress our firm resolve to implement the commitments on development made, in particular, in Gleneagles [Scotland]," the group said in its declaration. "These include the historic multilateral debt relief of up to $60 billion, the implementation of which is now well under way."

Proponents of debt relief in Africa and other social activists criticized the world's leading industrial nations for failing to live up to those promises.

"What the $60 billion headline means at best is just $3 billion extra in aid by 2010," said Max Lawson, a senior policy adviser with Oxfam International. "This means the G8 will still fall far short of their Gleneagles pledges."

But Blair, who leaves office June 27 and has made Africa a personal project, said the declaration was a blanket call for reaffirmation of promises made at the G8 summit in Scotland, in 2005, when leaders called for increasing aid to $50 billion per year through 2010, with half of that going to Africa.

"The important thing about what we have agreed today is that we have recommitted ourselves to all the commitments we made a couple of years ago at Gleneagles," Blair said. "But [...] is we have set out how we are going to do them."

Blair said the effort also included more support for peacekeeping efforts in Africa, better governance and support for African trade and commerce.

"Just as we have recommitted ourselves to substantial increases in support and help, so Africa has recommitted itself to its responsibilities as part of the partnership," he said.

He also cited "immense progress" so far on both sides, and praised Japan for announcing that it would put Africa high on the agenda at next year's G8 summit.

Lawson said Friday's reaffirmation was important for the fight against AIDS in Africa, but that it should be seen as a small step in the right direction.

"The millions of poor people in Africa need the concrete annual aid increases they were promised -- nothing less. Too much is at stake."