Activists launched a joint appeal to the Arab world on Friday in Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, to donate more money to ease poverty in Africa.
“The entire region of the Middle East, which has one of the great financial dynamics of the world, does very little to help,” said Sir Bob Geldof, chief organiser of the 1985 Live Aid and Live 8 concerts which raised money for Africa and awareness about poverty and aid.
The Live 8 series of concerts in 2005, which ran parallel with the UK’s Make Poverty History global campaign, were aimed at pressurising world leaders to decrease the debts of the world’s poorest nations, increase and improve aid and negotiate fairer trade rules.
On 7 July 2005 G8 leaders subsequently pledged to increase aid to Africa by US $25 billion by 2010.
“I am here today […] to encourage the business, humanitarian and the arts sectors to do a little more for that continent that lies less than 150 miles from where we now stand,” said Geldof.
He added that the status quo condemned people in Africa to die simply because they were poor: “They’re too poor to stay alive. That’s ridiculous in a world of surplus. To die of want is not only intellectually absurd, but it is morally repulsive.”
Geldof and other speakers launched the appeal at a press conference on Friday, which will be followed by an “In Honour of Africa” benefit dinner to appeal to big businesses and members of the Dubai ruling family.
The event has been organised by Consortium Dubai, a networking club based in the city.
All proceeds of the event will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“If Dubai has set itself the goal of being a new model city state economy, multicultural, for the planet […] then it needs to take its responsibilities very seriously,” said Geldof. “The emirates needs to up their game with regard to their responsibilities to the world’s poor.”
At the same time Africans themselves needed to demand transparency, accountability and good governance to alleviate home-grown poverty. “The governments of Africa need to be accountable and transparent to their own people,” the former Irish popstar said.
In the last 20 years the continent of Africa had uniquely declined economically by 25 percent, at a time when the world had never been so wealthier and healthier, he said.
Sundeep Waslekar, president of the international think-tank Strategic Foresight Group, said the appeal aimed to raise awareness as well as cash: “Funds are of course required…but more importantly we need to raise consciousness and awareness because poverty in Africa as well as elsewhere is not merely a function of a deficit of resources. It’s to a large extent a function of a deficit of appropriate policies.”
In the last decade the proportion of people in Africa living on less than $1 a day had increased from 40 percent to 50 percent, he added.
South African film producer Anant Singh said he hoped the event would be the “start of a big and important movement” in the Middle East.
“We cannot leave Africa suspended and outside the economic net of the planet. The human cost of that [..] is so horrendous,” added Geldof.
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