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One World Beat News

Bono Calls on U.S., Europe To Increase Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS,
Says Africa 'Bursting Into Flames'

Irish musician Bono on Wednesday called on the United States and Europe to increase efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa, saying that the continent is "bursting into flames," the AP/ reports. Bono -- founder of the AIDS, debt relief and trade advocacy group DATA -- at the annual conference of the United Kingdom's governing Labour Party in Brighton, England, said that 6,500 Africans are "dying a day of a treatable, preventable disease, dying for want of medicines you and I can get at our local chemist."

He added, "Let's get real here on a couple of things. Let's get to some uncomfortable truths. This is not about charity, this is about justice." The musician also "heaped praise" on British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown for promising "to make tackling Africa's woes the priority" next year when Britain serves as chair of the Group of Eight and during the United Kingdom's presidency of the European Union, according to the AP/ (AP/, 9/30).

Blair in February announced the establishment of a commission on Africa, which will examine HIV/AIDS and other challenges facing the continent and ways to resolve those issues. The commission -- which will include politicians, economists and advocates from Africa and developed nations -- has one year to develop a report that aims to put Africa in the forefront of the international agenda (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1).

During the opening day of the conference, Brown said that it is "vital" to remove international trade barriers for developing countries as many are "crippled by repaying their debt," the AP/ reports (AP/, 9/30). The British government on Sunday announced a new effort to pay down 10% of the total amount owed by low-income nations to international agencies and challenged other nations to implement similar policies. Brown said that Britain will earmark $180 million annually until 2015 to pay off 10% of the money owed by 32 low-income nations to international lenders, in particular the World Bank and the African Development Bank (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/27). "[Blair and Brown] are the kind of John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney] of the global development stage, in my opinion," Bono said, adding, "But the point is, Lennon and McCartney changed my interior world; Blair and Brown can change the real world" (AP/, 9/30).


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