Over 200,000 protesters in Scotland and a million spectators at concerts worldwide called for an end to extreme poverty on Saturday. The events come ahead of Wednesday's G8 summit, where leaders of eight of the most influential industrial nations will put aid for Africa at the top of their agenda.
The streets of Edinburgh were packed, as protesters taking part in the Make Poverty History campaign marched along a set route through the city's center. Meanwhile, a series of concerts called Live 8 were staged in each of the participating G8 nations and two additional locations. At a concert in Hyde Park in London featuring artists such as U2 and Paul McCartney, over 150,000 attended, according to the Associated Press.
"This is our chance to stand up for what's right," said Bono, lead singer for rock group U2 at the concert. "We're not looking for charity, we're looking for justice. We cannot fix every problem, but the ones we can, we must."
Organizers hope that the march and concerts will prompt the world leaders gathering from June 6-8 in nearby Gleneagles, Scotland to make greater commitments toward ending extreme poverty and establishing fairer trade rules that don't only benefit rich nations.
The G8 summit brings together the heads of state of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.
In the months leading to the summit, the Make Poverty History campaign has placed special emphasis on UNICEF statistics which say that 30,000 children die every day of extreme poverty, with 10 million children dying per year of preventable diseases.
Much of the campaign's publicity has highlighted that the figures amount to one child dying every three seconds.
In an open letter to political leaders, Bob Geldof, the organizer of the Live 8 concerts, said he hoped for a "historic breakthrough" in help for Africa and not merely a day of concerts.
"Today there will be noise and music and joy, the joy of exuberant possibility," he said, adding that on Friday at the end of the summit there would be expectant silence as the world awaited the leaders' response. In the 80's, the musician and activist organized the Live Aid concerts for Africa, which drew much attention to famines in the continent.
The Make Poverty History campaign, which includes over 400 religious and social action groups, is part of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), an umbrella organization that was launched in part by the Micah Challenge International, which was in was turn developed by the Micah Network and World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
On June 29, delegations of Church leaders various denominations within the U.S. and Britain met for the London Forum, at Lambeth Palace in England where they released a joint statement regarding the G8 meetings.
"The bible teaches that whatever we do to the poorest we do also to Jesus. We believe God judges nations by what they do to the poorest. This means all of us in the prosperous world, governments, churches, the media and populations stand under judgement, to the degree that we fail to respond to such a situation with costly compassion and generosity, so that we may help in Gods name and by Gods grace to secure justice for the poor," read the statement in part.
In a separate statement after the Lambeth conference, WEA international director Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe emphasized that despite humanly efforts to provide help, it was up to the Church to "complete the healing process."
Measures to fund anti-poverty budgets, cancel debt or set trade rules right, are only half measures or less such as the announcements we saw recently even if the full measure is within the Worlds ability to provide, it is still not up to the standard of Christ and the Scriptures. Only the Church, whom God has charged with the mandate to care for the poor, can help to complete the healing process.