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Campaign still petitioning G-8: poorest countries still unable to repay debts.

Campaigners are gathering in Birmingham, England, five years after the 1998 summit of the world's leading industrialized nations in that city, to proclaim that the world's richest countries are still failing to honour their promises to help the heavily indebted poorest.

Jubilee Debt Campaign, which met May 16 to mark the anniversary of the anti-debt protest, hoped to send its message to the next summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrial nations, meeting June 1-3 in Evian, France.

The campaign, supported by many church groups, including the Anglican Church of Canada, says that instead of fully cancelling the debt of 52 poor countries, the G-8 is reducing their level of debt to what it considers to be "sustainable" levels. This would leave countries with continuing debt repayments and mean, in many cases, that they were still unable to fund vital public services, such as education and health care, the campaign says.

"For some countries a sustainable level of debt is zero," the campaign spokesman, Ashok Sinha, told ENI.

Five years ago, during the Birmingham G-8 summit, 70,000 people formed a human chain to protest against the debt burden of poor countries.

As the G-8 prepared for its meeting in France, the campaign said it would demand that the members of the G-8 honour their earlier promises.

"Leaders promised to cancel the debt of the world's poorest countries in the face of massive public pressure. Those promises must be met," said Mr. Sinha.

He pointed out that only 26 countries were participating in the World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative meant to relieve debt on loans, and only eight had met the criteria.
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Publication:Anglican Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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