European Commission to Wear First White Band for Africa
BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 16, 2005 (ENS) - The European Commission’s Headquarters in Brussels, the Berlaymont building, is displaying a white band today in support of the campaign for the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP). It is the first of a number of well known buildings across Europe, Africa and Australia to be wrapped with white bands in the coming months.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso will launch the white band with Development Commissioner Louis Michel, GCAP spokesperson Rene Grotenhuis, and Axelle Red, the well known Belgian singer, long time campaigner on poverty issues, and one of the headline acts for the Live 8 concert in Paris.
Today, GCAP coalitions across Africa are organizing joint actions to mark the Day of the African Child, an annual event to mark the 1976 massacre of Soweto children by the apartheid regime. They have chosen this date to have an African White Band Day, demanding that world leaders "take immediate action to end the extreme poverty that leads to a child dying every three seconds."
Speaking in Brussels Wednesday President Barroso said, "Even in a week like this, when the eyes of the world are focused on EU finances and the constitutional debate, I will talk about Africa. We must not allow ourselves to accept the present reality, in which 25,000 people die every day from hunger, in which 25 million people have died from AIDS in sub Saharan Africa."
The European Union’s Overseas Development Aid for 2005 will be €46 billion - making the European Union the biggest donor of overseas aid in the world, Barroso said.
The European Commission will be asking the EU leaders to approve new proposals that would increase EU development aid to €66 billion in 2010, rising to more than €90 billion in 2015.
“The European Commission is determined to keep development and Africa on Europe’s political map," Barroso said. "This campaign, and the white band as its symbol, is a reminder to EU leaders to remember the wider world as they grapple with internal issues."
The Commission’s Headquarters first of many buildings which will be wrapped this year.
On International White Band Day July 1, people around the world will be wearing white bands and wrapping public buildings in white to send a message to the Group of Eight (G8) wealthy countries that they demand action on trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid.
The G8 finance ministers last week approved debt cancellation for 18 of the poorest countries, all but one of them in Africa. This action is expected to be approved when the heads of government - Jose Barroso, Silvio Berlusconi, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Jacques Chirac, Junichiro Koizumi, Paul Martin, Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder - attend the G8 meeting in Scotland July 4 to 6.
White Band Day July 1 is predicted to be one of the largest global actions ever taken, with white bands planned for buildings and other structures across the world.
In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the famous cotton tree, planted by freed slaves when the nation was founded, will be draped in a white band.
In Senegal, the slavery archway will be wrapped in a white band.
From June 30 to July 14 the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in Australia, will be wrapped in a white band, with the Australian coalition's slogan "Make Poverty History" across it.
The Coliseum in Italy will be wrapped, and so will the Brandenburger Gate in Germany. In Paris, France, the Trocadero's buildings which sit on either side of the Eiffel Tower, will be wrapped with two white bands. In Spain, bridges will be wrapped on the main highways.
In Georgia all the trees along the Central Avenue of the capital, Tbilisi, will be wrapped in white bands.
The hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France will be wrapped in a white band from the July 4 to 6 during the G8 meeting.
Live 8 - at least five free concerts on July 2 - will rally millions around the world to persuade the eight world leaders to support the Commission for Africa’s conclusions and to take the actions recommended.
Five simultaneous free concerts are confirmed with the cream of international rock and pop artists performing in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Philadelphia. Hundreds of thousands will attend, and millions more will watch the international broadcasts.
Historic venues have been selected. Hyde Park, London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Philadelphia - the Cradle of America and the Live Aid City in 1985, the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the Circus Maximus in Rome. Plans for concerts in the other G8 capitals are being developed.
“The boys and girls with guitars will finally get to turn the world on its axis," said Geldof, who organized the Live Aid concert to avert African famine in 1985. "What we started 20 years ago is coming to a political point in a few weeks. What we do next is seriously, properly, historically and politically important."
Find out who is performing at Live 8 and where online at: http://www.live8live.com/theconcerts/index.shtml
Visit the Commission for Africa at: http://www.commissionforafrica.org/
Learn about the Global Call to Action against Poverty at: http://www.whiteband.org/