Campaigners across Britain called for greater debt relief as they observed World Debt Day yesterday. Debt campaigners gathered at events across Britain to mark the sixth anniversary of the historic Human Chain at a meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) most powerful countries in Birmingham. Then 70,000 demonstrators surrounded world leaders at the G8 summit to call for an end to Third World debt. World Debt Day 2004 saw people organise events and acts of worship nationwide to mark the achievements so far of the campaign against debt. They also focused on the immense amount of work that still needs to be done to end the Third World Debt crisis so that poor countries may begin to move out of poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals for 2015. Many campaigners wore red chains to symbolise debt slavery. Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD, said that support for World Debt Day "shows that we won't let rich governments off the hook". Campaigners are urging Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush to put cancellation of Third World debts at the top of the agenda of the G8 meeting in the US on 8-10 June. Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton said: "World Debt Day is a reminder that the cancellation - not reduction - of poorer countries' debts is a necessary step out of poverty. The G8 summit in the USA in June must listen to the message of 16 May. Last year Chancellor Gordon Brown sent a special message of support to debt campaigners. This year, Conservative Party Leader Michael Howard MP sent his encouragement to the debt campaign. He said: "World Debt Day will send the message that more needs to be done to match words with action to help the poorest people in the world." World Debt Day activities included film showings in London, a link up between schoolchildren in Stoke on Trent and schools in Uganda, a 'Millennium Development Goals Penalty Shoot Out' in Leeds, Debt Campaigner rappers in Manchester and MPs reading lessons in church services in Newcastle.
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St John Southworth
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