“If finance ministers agree a deal on debt cancellation, this G7 meeting would be the first milestone on the road towards ending the obscene poverty.”
The G7 finance minister’s summit in London this weekend has triggered action from Christians and churches across the UK to campaign for debt cancellation in poor countries.
As one of the three principles in the UK-based global anti-poverty campaign “Make Poverty History” mentioned, rich countries and the institutions they control must act to cancel all the unpayable debts of the poorest countries. They should not do this by depriving poor countries of new aid, but by digging into their own pockets and providing new money.
A report released on 1st February by leading international agencies ActionAid, CAFOD and Oxfam say the G7 finance ministers must seize the opportunity of the meeting in London to have a huge impact on world poverty.
Oxfam Great Britain laments that every week, poverty kills more people than died in the Asian tsunami. A child dies every three seconds from a preventable disease, and yet the world’s poorest countries spend more on debt repayments – $100 million a day – than they do on health.
In the report entitled “Do the Deal: the G7 must act now to cancel poor country debts,” Romilly Greenhill of ActionAid said, “Further debt relief is urgently needed. But it must be new money, and it must come without the kind of economic policy conditions that can harm poor people instead of helping them.”
Henry Northover of CAFOD added, “The small debt relief given so far has been used well and saved lives. It would be an act of gross cynicism to talk of poverty reduction while refusing the poorest the means to achieve it.”
It is clear that in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals – the internationally agreed targets to halve world poverty by 2015 – rich countries have to offer full debt cancellation, as well as increased aid and fairer trade for low income countries.
The G7 meeting this weekend will also coincide with the Poverty Actions Sunday on 6th February. Poverty Actions Sunday is a response to the poverty problem from all the UK churches. It is coordinated by Church Action on Poverty, a national ecumenical Christian social justice charity. It works in partnership with churches and with people in poverty themselves to find solutions to poverty, locally, nationally and globally.
This year the theme is “Prosperity with a purpose?”. While the nation is getting more prosperous than ever before, churches call on Christians to reflect on how we can find ways to share the wealth more justly. In addition, the day aims to mobilise people to give, act and pray for change.
Max Lawson from Oxfam Great Britain concluded in a press statement, “If finance ministers agree a deal on debt cancellation, this G7 meeting would be the first milestone on the road towards ending the obscene poverty that kills 50,000 people every day.”
Christian Today, February 2, 2005