Debt Relief

Poverty, AIDS and war: the everyday tsunami

Ann-Louise Colgan, Africa Policy Outlook 2005
March 1, 2005

The rapid and massive mobilization of aid for countries affected by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami disaster stands in stark contrast to the amount of global attention and resources given to crises that are less visible but equally as deadly in Africa, writes Ann-Louise Colgan this week for the US-based Africa Action advocacy group.

While Colgan notes that poverty-related challenges in Africa are the focus this year of major international events such as the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations’ summit and a United Nations’ special summit to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals, it is also important to note she says, that “these international meetings and campaigns are Northern-dominated and rarely include African input.” Rather, they can “have the effect of drowning out African voices.”

On the subject of debt, while G8 leaders continue to dispute how best to address debt relief in Africa, African civil society groups and some governments have called for outright and unconditional cancellation of debts that are “illegitimate” and that “should not have to be repaid.”They urged the George W. Bush administration in the US to apply the same standard it used in calling for the cancellation of Iraq’s odious debt to the odious and illegitimate debts of African countries. “They will not be satisfied with any new creditor proposals to merely reduce Africa’s debt burden to ‘sustainable’ levels, or to simply reduce countries’ debt payments,” writes Colgan.

Last year, 100% multilateral debt cancellation for impoverished countries was put on the table for the first time during discussions among G8 leaders in June and then among their finance ministers in the fall. While these meetings produced statements in support of 100% debt cancellation, an agreement was not reached on the list of eligible countries or on the mechanism through which this would be financed.

Categories: Debt Relief, Foreign Aid, Odious Debts

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