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Come On G-8, Surprise Us!
27 June 2002
As the G-8 leaders gather at their hideaway in Kananaskis, Canada, campaigners against the unjust burden of Third World debt can only hope for a miracle!
The G-8 leaders meet for two days as guests of Canada to consider the state of the world's economy, terrorism and Africa. New Zealand campaigners are joining others around the world to demand debt cancellation. The lack of progress so far will disappoint the 63,847 Kiwis who signed a global petition to drop the debt.
"We have seen it all before. The leaders of the most powerful countries lock themselves away to try to fix the world's problems. Like the 1.2 billion people living on less than USD$1 a day, we wait for some news of a change of heart," said Christian World Service National Coordinator, Jill Hawkey.
"Debt cancellation ought to be on the top of their agenda," she said, "if they are serious about addressing the real problems of the world. More money must be spent on health and education in Africa rather than on debt repayments. Our challenge to G-8 is come on, surprise us!"
The Jubilee Debt Action Network coordinated by Christian World Service has consistently campaigned for the cancellation of all debt for the poorest nations and against the devastating structural adjustment programmes of the World Bank.
In June 1999, the leaders of the world's eight richest nations agreed to a USD$ 100 billion package for debt cancellation for 42 countries. Three years later only six countries have passed the final stage of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Limited as it is, this package has doubled the number of children able to attend primary school in Uganda and allowed half a million vaccinations in Mozambique.
The six countries reaching completion point are Uganda, Mozambique, Bolivia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, though Uganda and Bolivia are already in need of more debt relief.
Five African Leaders will attend part of the summit to discuss the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) initiative and ask G-8 nations to fund it. NEPAD promises reform in Africa in return for more aid, debt relief and concessions on trade. Without more money there is little hope for the half a billion people living under the shadow of debt in Africa. 34 of the 42 HIPC countries are African.
Note: The G-8 countries are: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and USA.
Christian World Service Media Release