Annie Lennox leads calls for sustained aid


Singer Annie Lennox has voiced confidence that public pressure can in time solve the world’s humanitarian crises as she received an award for her philanthropy.

The voice of the Eurythmics was honoured in New York on Monday by Global Citizen, the advocacy movement that plans a much larger concert Saturday led by Stevie Wonder to press for sustained levels of foreign aid.

Lennox — a longtime advocate of international development, HIV/AIDS awareness and gay rights — voiced alarm at the state of the world including mass human displacement and worsening calamities linked to climate change.

“The catastrophic events of wantonly plundering Earth’s natural resources,” she warned, is “risking the veritable sustainability of human existence on this planet.”

But she said: “My thinking is, if we can distribute Coca-Cola to all the corners of the world, and send men and women into space, then surely there are solutions to these problems.”

“Collectively everybody can make a difference. But you need to choose hope over despair, responsibility for indifference, feminism over misogyny,” she said to applause.

Global Citizen presented the Scottish singer with an award named after late Beatle George Harrison, who pioneered the mega-benefit show with his 1971 concert in New York to support the war- and cyclone-ravaged Bangladesh.

A tambourine in hand, Lennox sang a mellow take on Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” with guitar by the late Beatle’s son Dhani — who playfully segued into the Fab Four’s classic “Hey Jude.”

Global Citizen distributes tickets for free to fans who pledge to take actions such as writing letters to their governments in support of foreign aid, money which the United Nations says has helped halve the planet’s extreme poverty over the past three decades.

Such advocacy is especially timely as US President Donald Trump has proposed slashing foreign aid, arguing that spending should prioritize Americans.

The prime ministers of Luxembourg, Malta and Norway and senior officials of Argentina, Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates all appeared at Monday’s event to promote sustained support.

Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, pledged a fresh five million euros ($6 million) to the UN World Food Program.

Other musicians who played the concert included Rage Against the Machine guitar virtuoso Tom Morello, a left-wing activist who wrote: “Arm the Homeless” in tape on his instrument.

Morello brought out a surprise spoken-word guest — director and fellow campaigner Michael Moore who, taking the tone from his ongoing Broadway show, urged the audience to organize and resist Trump.