US President Obama understands why his family members in Kenya are facing real hunger
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 08:17:46 -0700 (PDT)
G-8 pledges $20 billion to fight world hunger after appeal from Obama
President Obama mentions his Kenyan-born father and poverty in Africa
in his personal plea for extra aid. At a news conference after the
summit, he defends his healthcare effort at home.
By Christi Parsons
6:51 AM PDT, July 10, 2009
Reporting from Rome -- After a personal appeal from President Obama,
world leaders agreed this morning to come up with $20 billion to fight
world hunger -- money over and above what they already spend in
emergency humanitarian aid.
At the beginning of the Group of 8 summit here this week, leaders of
the most developed nations had planned to raise $15 billion toward the
effort, but decided over the course of two days to increase the amount
each nation will direct to promoting food security.
The decision comes as Obama closes out his first G-8 session and heads
to Ghana, the African American president's first trip to sub-Saharan
Africa since his election last year.
In a news conference after the close of the summit this morning, Obama
also defended his administration's work at home to pass healthcare
reform, an effort that has come under fire from some on Capitol Hill
as he takes his fourth foreign trip while lawmakers wrestle with his
He also called on leaders of Iran to take note of the G-8 statement
condemning its treatment of peaceful protests, Holocaust denial and
defiance of international nuclear standards.
As leaders discussed the problem of world hunger, according to people
who were present, Obama at one point rose to make a personal appeal
for a more substantial commitment to food security.
When his father left Kenya five decades ago, his home country had a
higher per capita income and gross domestic product than did South
Korea. Today, South Korea is prosperous and Kenya still struggles with
poverty, a state Obama attributes to stronger social institutions in
At his news conference, Obama acknowledged relying on his own history
in arguing for extra aid.
"My father traveled to the United States a mere 50 years ago," he
said. "Yet now I have family members who . . . live in villages where
hunger is real."
The question he raised in the meeting, he said, was, "Why is that?"
"If you talk to people on the ground in Africa, certainly in Kenya,
they will say that, part of the issue here is the institutions aren't
working for ordinary people," he said. For instance, he said, many
people know they can't get jobs and other opportunities without paying
Strengthening democracies and social institutions will be a key theme
Obama emphasizes when he travels to Africa today. While there, he is
expected to emphasize the responsibility of developing nations to use
international assistance in a transparent and accountable way.
At the close of the G-8 summit, Obama lauded what he called
"significant measures" to improve the environment, global economy and
He said he believes the nations are committed to sustaining economic
stimulus plans and financial regulation, implementing measures to
contain nuclear weapons and taking "groundbreaking steps forward" to
address climate change.
He defended his administration's work to pass a healthcare plan,
saying, "We jumped in with both feet."
"Our team is working with members of Congress every day on this
issue," he said. "It is my highest legislative priority over the next
Obama does not consider it a "do-or-die" proposition to secure
congressional passage this summer, but he added, "I really want to get
it done by the August recess."
Obama emphasized the consensus in the G-8 statement on Iran, noting
that it included Russia, "which doesn't make statements like that
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