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Red Cross urges a comprehensive approach to aid for Africa

Friday July 8, 2005

The G8 should take a comprehensive approach to the alleviation of poverty in Africa, according to the CEO of Australian Red Cross, Robert Tickner.

Mr Tickner applauded proposals to increase aid but said it should happen sooner rather than later and should be part of a strategy that also looked at the elimination of debt and the removal of barriers to trade.

He said the Red Cross believes that solutions designed by strategic summits like the G8 need to be matched at the local level, including local communities in the design, implementation and monitoring of programs developed for their benefit.

'As an impartial and neutral humanitarian organisation, the Red Cross usually does not speak openly in such debates but chooses private consultation with relevant parties. However this unprecedented chance for change compels us to act. The mission of Red Cross globally is to reduce vulnerability and all the evidence shows vulnerability is directly linked with poverty. That's why we're taking a stand.'

However, Mr Tickner cautioned there could be no quick fixes.

'What is important is that these issues of aid, debt relief and trade are brought to the top of government agendas.'

Red Cross is also a key player in the fight against another of the major causes of suffering in Africa, HIV and AIDS. According to UNAIDS, 25.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Red Cross, with the resources and know-how of our African National Societies is focussing on three main priorities - prevention, care, and the elimination of stigma and discrimination.

There are similar poverty-related challenges in the battle against other communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and polio, which are more easily treated in richer countries.

'Red Cross believes vulnerability stemming from poverty is one of the greatest threats to human dignity and should be one of the world's highest priorities,' Mr Tickner said.