Caritas Campaigns for Poverty to Top Summit Agenda

Every Month There Is a «Silent Tsunami» in Africa

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 11, 2005 ( A representative of Caritas Internationalis chaired a conference of non-profit organizations that urged World Summit leaders to deliver on the 2000 Millennium Development Goals.

The event ended Friday, and was the largest gathering of civil society and non-profit organizations in history, explained Duncan MacLaren, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, in a communiqué.

The conference was entitled: «Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Participation and Renewal.» Joe Donnelly, Caritas representative to the United Nations in New York, chaired the event.

The keynote speaker was Jan Egeland, U.N. emergency coordinator, who said that basic life saving should not be a lottery where some win and others lose.

He called on everyone to remember those emergencies that do not make the headlines and gave the example of Africa, where there is a «silent tsunami every month» given that 20 million live in misery and thousands of children die every month of preventable diseases.

Egeland stressed that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had to be implemented as such poverty in a time when technology can solve most ills was completely unacceptable to humanity.

Eliminating poverty

Other speakers called for the World Summit leaders to ignore attempts to stifle discussion on the MDGs and to stress that, together, they are the best chance that exists to quickly wipe out poverty in the world.

«After the stagnation of aid flows in the 1990s, the debate on MDGs represents the best way of getting the debate on development started again and beginning to make a dent in a poverty that undermines our dignity as children of God,» commented Caritas Secretary-General MacLaren.

Caritas Internationalis urges «all members of the confederation to take up the MDG campaign with passion. Soon, all members will have access to a special pack produced by Caritas Luxembourg and Cameroon on the MDGs to help them campaign more effectively.»

Vatican Radio reported on Thursday that «the world is lagging in the achievement of the desired millennium objectives fixed for 2015.»

Echoing the 2005 U.N. report on human development, made known the day before, Vatican Radio noted that «every hour poverty kills 1,200 children» and the rich and poor divergence increases: «The 500 wealthiest men earn all together more than the 416 million poorest people» in the world.

Goals unachieved

The planned halving of poverty by 2015 «will not be obtained, and within 10 years as 827 million people will still be in a state of extreme poverty,» said Vatican Radio.

Neither is the objective being achieved of reducing the mortality rate of children and access to education. If since 1990 more than 130 million people have emerged from extreme poverty, the situation has worsened in 18 countries, and 10 million children die annually from avoidable causes.

At least 2.5 million people still live on less that $2.00 a day. Some 115 million children do not go to school and of these, only 30 million have had access to education in recent times.

Moreover, more than a billion people lack potable water and 2.6 million have no sanitary services.

The report proposes a target date for rich countries to achieve 0.7% of their GNP for 2015, and also highlights the less generous donors, noted Vatican Radio.

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