Poverty an 'Urgent Issue' During World Cup, says Charity

A U.K.-based charity is highlighting the plight of South Africa's impoverished, some of whom are being adversely affected by the country's hosting of the World Cup.

War on Want has launched a three-minute film revealing deep contrasts in the huge sums of money spent by the South African government on the sporting event and the growing poverty of the country's people.

The film interviews dwellers at Cape Town's Blikkiesdorp transit camp, some of whom were moved their by the South African government to "clean up" the areas where the World Cup would take place.

"They told us it is temporary. But it is not temporary. This is a dumping place for people," says shack dweller Jane Roberts.

"The government has got lots of money to build stadiums. But they haven't got money to build us houses. I think only the rich of the government will benefit - not us," says Cynthia Twigg, another Blikkiesdorp resident.

The film also reports that the South African government has spent some $4.1 billion to stage the World Cup, which is the largest amount ever spent by a host government.

Furthermore, soccer's governing body FIFA has already made $3.2 billion on this year's tournament, the largest profit ever recorded in the run-up to the World Cup.

In contrast, 40 percent of South Africans struggle to survive on less than two dollars a day.

War on Want programmes officer, Caroline Elliot, said: "The South African government has spent vast sums to create a spectacle watched by over two billion people around the world. Yet South Africa is one of the most unequal countries on the planet."

"These inequalities must be addressed as a matter of urgent priority," she adds.

Along with War on Want, other groups are also using the appeal of the World Cup to spotlight poverty.

U.S.-based group Bread for the World issued a "report card" for Africa that showed the continent's progress in several sectors of society, while revealing the region's continuing struggle against poverty and disease.

"African countries will continue to thrive only within a supportive and coherent international policy environment, working with global partners to build on these recent gains," the report stated.

The United Nations, meanwhile, has co-sponsored a T.V. spot to help bolster support for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

"We are all needed on the pitch to score the Millennium Development Goals," Zinedine Zidane, former French national team captain says during the spot.

"There are no spectators, we are all players – join the team to beat poverty," says Didier Drogba, national team captain for the Ivory Coast.

The MDG's, which address issues such maternal health, HIV, education, and international cooperation alongside poverty, are on deadline to be met by 2015.

On the web:

War on Want video

Millennium Development Goals video

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