The G8 summit is off and running. Leaders came to an agreement on tax avoidance and transparency, but Syria remains a sticking point with Russia as the stumbling point. Meanwhile, President Obama announced that the United States would provide an additional $300 million in humanitarian assistance to people affected by the civil war in Syria.
The money will be used for food aid, medical care, clean water and the the provision of shelter. The release also says that the US will increase its efforts to reach vulnerable people, such as the elderly, women and children, with more services and focus on preventing the spread of water-borne illness through sanitation and hygiene programs.
Most of the money will be spent inside Syria emergency services, but Lebanon stands to gain $72 million in support at a time when the refugee response effort in country is struggling. The UN is running short on money leading to some changes in its response.
“We have had to make a very painful choice of reducing the health care services to refugees from 85 to 75 percent of life saving operations only, and many refugees are finding it very, very expensive to cover the 25 percent. So we are doing our best to refer them to other agencies that are on the ground also working, doing their best to fill this gap,” said Dana Sleiman of the U.N.’s refugee agency to VOA.
The US money spent in Lebanon should alleviate some of the pressure, but the UN request is roughly 1/4 fulfilled. Meanwhile, the Obama and Cameron tried to press on Russian leader Putin to find an agreement on Syria to no avail. Obama and Putin met for more than 2 hours and decided to agree to disagree on what to do.
“Of course, our opinions do not coincide, but all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria, to stop the growth of victims, and to solve the situation peacefully,” said Putin after the meeting. “We agreed to push the parties to the negotiations table.”
President Obama agreed in his statement following the meeting saying, “”We do have differing perspectives on the problem. But we share an interest in reducing the violence; securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they’re neither used nor are they subject to proliferation; and that we want to try to resolve the issue through political means, if possible.”
One area that did not stall is tax avoidance. A joint declaration (see at bottom) from the G8 members called for sharing of tax information and rules that would prevent companies from avoiding taxes. It also includes a pledge to support developing countries in their efforts to build up the capacity of tax collection.
“[W]e want to make sure that individuals don’t use the global financial system to hide their wealth and avoid paying, or evade paying taxes where they should,” said British Treasury chief George Osborne.
The G8 Summit kicked off in Northern Ireland where the major economies in the world will discuss the 3Ts. Here are some news updates and reactions to the proceedings.
Read the Lough Erne Declaration: