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Bishop Calls Support For Make Poverty History

AS G8 LEADERS GATHER at GLENEAGLES, MORAL and POLITICAL SUPPORT is REQUIRED from ALL NEW ZEALANDERS to MAKE POVERTY HISTORY Extract from an address by Bishop Richard Randerson, Anglican Dean of Auckland, at an inter-faith gathering to Make Poverty History.

“New Zealanders should make known to leaders of all political parties their desire to see the burden of debt in third world nations eliminated so that people everywhere may live free of starvation and disease,” said Bishop Richard Randerson in addressing an inter-faith Make Poverty History gathering in Auckland.

As Sir Bob Geldoff is promoting via Live 8 a fresh initiative to eliminate third world debt, and leaders of the G8 nations gather on Wednesday for a summit meeting at Gleneagles, the voice of New Zealand should be heard in expressing strong moral and political support for such moves.

New Zealand should also be committing to raising its level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from 0.27% of gross national income (GNI). This country once had an ODA level of 0.51% of GNI, but this has halved in two decades. The internationally adopted target for all countries of 0.7% of GNI could be obtained over 10 years by annual increments of only 0.05%.

In many parts of the world today 30,000 people each day die needlessly as a result of a lack of food, water, and adequate health care. That number equates to three times the population of New Zealand every year, or deaths from 36 tsunamis such as that experienced in Asia last summer.

In Zambia a mother of two very ill boys has to make a “Sophie’s Choice” by letting one die because she cannot afford medication for both. In parts of Africa, 10-year olds are left in charge of the care of younger siblings because parents and other adult relatives have been wiped out by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Such situations are exacerbated by overseas debt which sees the poorest nations paying compounding interest rates of 20% on debt incurred more than 20 years ago. Unfair trading practices, and subsidies to western farmers, ensure that third world farmers are unable to gain a living income from their produce, and in some cases cannot even cover the cost of production.

The United Kingdom is to be commended for recent steps taken to eliminate debts owed by poor nations to Britain. One of the consequences of this is that Uganda has been able to abolish primary school fees so that enrolment has now risen from 50% to 95% of school-age children. Health expenditure for Ugandans has been increased by 85%.

Leaders of faith communities in the UK said last week : “The security and wellbeing of all nations depends on the security and wellbeing of each nation”. New Zealanders have always had a strong commitment to the wellbeing of all nations. This is a moment for the Kiwi voice to be expressed internationally by leaders of all political parties, and others with influence. (End)

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