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G-8 leaders pressured to honor aid pledges

The global recession has helped reduce aid from wealth nations – even as it pushes millions more into poverty.

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The global economic recession is reversing years of progress in reducing extreme poverty – a stark message that leaders from developing nations, in particular Africa, will take to this week's Group of 8 summit of wealthy countries in Italy.

Underlying the alarm over a rising tide of poverty, infant mortality, and hunger is the criticism that wealthy nations have not honored their commitments to substantially increase global aid.

The complaint – from developing country leaders as well as international institutions such as the World Bank and prominent aid advocates such as Bob Geldof – is that while the world's wealthy have found trillions of dollars to rescue private companies and financial institutions, they have cut back on aid to the poor.

"The very real risk is of G-8 countries going back on the [aid] commitments they made because of the economic crisis," says Sue Mbaya, director of Africa advocacy for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization with worldwide reach. "As much as [the G-8 countries] will feel the pinch, the truth is that the worst of the impact will be felt in developing countries."

In the poorest countries, lost jobs or reduced assistance translate into malnutrition, declining health, and increased maternal and infant mortality, said Ms. Mbaya in a phone interview from the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

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