Thursday May 30, 23:08 PM

O'Neill, Bono Wrap Up Africa Tour

Associate Press-Thursday May 30, 23:08 PM

 

 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) _ U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Irish rock star Bono on Thursday visited an Ethiopian hospice and orphanage run by missionaries, one of the last stops of their African tour.

 

Dozens of patients, some with bandaged, quietly lined walkways and alleyways. O'Neill said he was deeply moved and touched.

 

"This is a place of love and joy," he said. "This is a place where all pretense is gone and all human beings are together and everyone is treated with dignity and respect."

 

The hospice treats more than 700 people with infectious diseases, including AIDS, while the orphanage is looking after more than 200 children with mental and physical disabilities.

 

As many as 3 million Ethiopians are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, giving one of the world's poorest countries the third largest infected population in the world.

 

Bono and his wife worked in an Ethiopian orphanage in the mid-1980s after becoming involved in Live Aid, a fund raised through a concert and an album produced by Bob Geldof to help Ethiopian famine victims. He said such places proved the need for international aid and debt relief.

 

Bono cajoled O'Neill into making the tour to see for himself how important debt relief, fair trade and effective aid are to Africa.

 

O'Neill says the United States is committed to helping Africa, but aid money should be used effectively and produce measurable results.

 

Kristina Rudd, a 20-year-old American college student who works at the hospice as a volunteer, said the visit would help raise awareness about the problems in African countries.

 

Rudd, from Ann Arbor, Mich., said most of the children are waiting for adoption, but "some are not picture perfect" and "will probably spend the rest of their life here."

 

Bono, O'Neill and actor Chris Tucker later visited a vocational institute where students learn computer studies, carpentry and auto-mechanics.

 

"The students are being prepared for skills that could be used any where in the world," O'Neill said. "The students are being given the right kind of training, this is excellent."

 

The group was due to visit a garment factory, the only Ethiopian company benefiting from the U.S. African Growth and

Opportunities Act, later Thursday.

 

On Wednesday, Bono told delegates at the annual meeting of the African Development Bank that the international community needed to do more to help the world's poorest continent.

 

"We need to put billions more in, and we must see it for what it is; value for money, smart money for the United States and

Europe ... the chaos that will ensue if we don't will cost us a lot more in the long run," Bono told the delegates.

 

The group is due to leave Africa early Friday.

 

 

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.