Tears mark launch of poverty ad

Film director Richard Curtis wept as he described the suffering he witnessed in Africa at the launch of the new advert for the charity-led Make Poverty History campaign.

Sir Bob Geldof and Davina McCall also gave emotional speeches at the event, which was attended by pop stars McFly, Girls Aloud, Rachel Stevens and Beverley Knight.

The advert was screened simultaneously on all commercial television stations at 7.58pm last Thursday, and will be screened at cinemas and concerts until the end of 2005.

It features high-profile figures such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jamie Foxx and Kate Moss. The stars click their fingers at three-second intervals to symbolise the fact that poverty causes the death of a child every three seconds.

The Make Poverty History campaign is a coalition of more than 300 charities that want richer countries to drop the debt owed by developing countries, more and better aid and trade justice.

The day-to-day running of the campaign is organised by various working groups consisting of representatives from coalition members. There are plans to intensify the campaign in the run-up to the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July.

Curtis said: "If 50,000 people suddenly died in Coventry, and then another 50,000 in Madrid, then Paris, and so on across Europe, you can bet that world leaders at the G8 summit would find the necessary money in the time it took to walk from the lift to the breakfast bar at Gleneagles."

Curtis, who is widely credited with being the campaign's driving force, then began to cry as he described meeting an African woman who had Aids - she was terrified she would pass it on to her child through her breast milk, but had no other food. She later died.

The ad will be used to ask members of the public to join the campaign and text co-ordinated messages to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

The three main political parties will devote Sunday 24 April to outlining their plans for tackling poverty in developing countries, after lobbying from Curtis and Geldof.


- Coalition members include Oxfam, Comic Relief, Cafod, ActionAid, Acevo and NCVO

- The campaign was launched in 2005 because it's 20 years since Live Aid, the EU presidency passes to the UK and the UK hosts the G8 summit this year

- The coalition is encouraging people to wear white wristbands bearing the slogan 'Make Poverty History'

- So far more than 500,000 bands have been sold.Media donors have given £4m to the ad campaign.

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