Pledge to double aid for poor is renewed

G8 leaders have bowed to pressure to renew their pledge to double aid to the world's poorest countries to $50bn (£25bn) a year by 2010. A draft communiqué for their meeting in Japan angered aid campaigners by omitting the keynote promise made at Gleneagles three years ago.

Some countries questioned the need for the aid boost at a time when they were feeling the strain of the global credit crunch. Yesterday the G8 leaders issued a gloomy statement on the world economy, saying it was "now facing uncertainty and downside risks persist". They expressed "strong concern" that rising oil and food prices would have "serious implications for the most vulnerable".

But they accepted it would be wrong to water down their commitment to poor countries. "That would have been a terrible mistake," said Gordon Brown, who fought to protect the Gleneagles deal.

The summit also agreed to spend $10bn on agriculture in Africa; provide 100 million malaria nets; spend $60bn over five years tackling infectious diseases and to train and recruit 1.5 million health workers in Africa.

But campaigners warned the G8 nations were behind on their Gleneagles promises, saying that only $3bn of the $25bn promised for Africa had been delivered.

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