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ETHIOPIA: Geldof launches HIV/AIDS appeal

Photo: IRIN
Bob Geldof with Meseret
ADDIS ABABA, 28 May 2003 (PlusNews) - The Irish rock star, Bob Geldof, on Wednesday urged Ethiopia and its politicians to face up to the devastating HIV/AIDS virus.

The singer and third world campaigner, now on his first official visit to Ethiopia since Live Aid in 1985, said the virus was crippling the impoverished country, and urged the population to stand up and acknowledge the scale of the crisis.

"The situation here is catastrophic," he said, pointing out that HIV/AIDS together with massive debt and poor trade terms were debilitating the country’s ability to fight drought. "This is really the equivalent of what the bubonic plague did in Europe. It is devastating. You and your economies cannot support this."

Geldof came face to face with the impact of the virus by meeting a 10-year-old AIDS orphan, Meseret Tadese, who is one of three million people in Ethiopia infected with the virus. The pair held hands in a tiny mud shack in a shantytown on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa.

"This girl wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Instead she will die within a year," said Geldof.

Families are too poor to buy drugs to treat the disease. "This is a disgrace," said Geldof. "This should not be happening in the world."

He is looking to western governments to come up with a "Marshall Plan for Africa", with each of them pledging 0.16 percent of their GDP towards it.

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