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Debt Decision Day, July 23

Debt Decision Day, July 23
CTV Newsroom

The call for the cancellation of Third World debt will be very loud this weekend. Supporters of the international Jubilee 2000 will put the heat on G8 leaders, meeting in Okinawa, Japan from July 21-23. The Group is made up of the USA, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Japan and Canada.

Sunday 23 July is Debt Decision Day, the last day that the G8 leaders meet and their last chance to announce a commitment to give those people impoverished by debt a new start. On that day thousands of churchgoers throughout Aotearoa New Zealand will join the international movement to call for an end to the unjust debt burden.

The costs to the Third World are overwhelming. In Africa debt costs the lives of 13 children every minute. In every one of the 52 countries that Jubilee 2000 has identified as needing debt cancellation, it takes away the people's access to health care and education. Debt jeopardizes the very future of these countries, struggling to survive when so many of their citizens do not have a decent livelihood.

“As we mark the new millennium, it is imperative that urgent action be taken at this summit to break the debt bondage that holds the poorest people of the world captive,” said Jill Hawkey, on behalf of Jubilee 2000 Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The leaders of these governments have the power to cancel the unpayable debt and it is about time they used that power to kill the debt instead of people,” she added. “It could be as simple as pressing the delete button on a computer, but instead the IMF and the World Bank are continually writing whole programmes. Each new debt relief package adds more obstacles without cutting any debt,” she continued.

In spite of all the announcements, in reality G8 leaders have only managed to cancel USD $10.6 billion worth of debt - one tenth of what they promised last year in Cologne. In total, poor countries are still paying wealthy countries USD $21.9 billion each year – over $60 million every day. At least three quarters of this is servicing unpayable debt - debt that can never be repaid.

“Billions of dollars change hands every day on financial markets and yet there does not seem to be the will to help the 1.3 billion people who live on less than USD $1 a day,” said Jill Hawkey.

Jubilee 2000 Aotearoa New Zealand is a programme of Christian World Service and Caritas. It is a network of individuals and groups campaigning for the cancellation of Third World debt and an end to the structural adjustment programmes of the IMF and the World Bank. Robert Reid, Debt Campaign Coordinator is attending the alternative non-governmental organisation meetings in Okinawa.

Further information from: Jill Hawkey (03) 366 9274, (03) 332 8255 or 021 267 2278 (a/h)

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