Kevin Rudd’s attendance at Thursday’s UN meeting on aid and development in New York is vital to help ensure that the needs of poor people in our region – struggling with the crippling impacts of rising food and fuel prices and climate change – are well represented at the international forum.
Around 90 heads of state and governments, along with the CEOs of the world’s biggest businesses and hundreds of anti-poverty organisations, are expected to gather for the High-Level Event, set to review the world’s progress on the Millennium Development Goalss, the eight objectives agreed in 2000 for halving global poverty by 2015.
Goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, combating diseases such as HIV and AIDS and malaria, and improving maternal health.
“Oxfam thinks it is important that Kevin Rudd attend this meeting and is calling in all leaders attending the summit, including Prime Minister Rudd, to treat this as an emergency summit and step up their efforts in the fight against poverty,” Oxfam Australia executive director Andrew Hewett said.
Mr Hewett said that whilst people in developed countries were feeling the impacts of rising food and fuel prices, for the poorest in the world, the food crisis was literally a matter of life and death.
As parents living on $1 or $2 a day are faced with the harsh reality of spending 80 per cent of their income on food, families are being forced to keep any other spending to the strict minimum. They are often cutting down on essential medicines or obliged to send their children to work instead.
“Oxfam staff on the island of Gizo, in the Solomon Islands, are reporting that the price of food has increased beyond the means of most families. Petrol and kerosene prices have also increased making things more difficult,” Mr Hewett said.
“Larger families with four or more children are not able to provide all they need and it’s affecting school participation of children. Families can’t afford to pay school fees, and children are needed to stay home and help look for food.
“More families are trying to plant individual sup sup (vegetable) gardens because they can’t afford to buy vegetables in the market.
“An important part of Kevin Rudd’s role at this summit is to work with world leaders to bring down global food prices, which are impoverishing millions of people.”
Meanwhile, climate change is also threatening to undermine the global fight against poverty, with Pacific nations such as Kiribati and Tuvalu set to disappear completely due to rising sea levels. “World leaders must not just reissue empty promises, with their fingers crossed behind their backs,” Mr Hewett said.
“This is a poverty emergency that requires exactly the same attention and response as the financial crisis grabbing the headlines. Significant progress has been made but much more needs to be done.”
For more information or interviews, please contact Laurelle Keough, Oxfam Australia, on 0409 960 100, or email@example.com