Countdown to Okinawa G8 summit

 Campaigners around the world are joining forces to urge the G8 finance ministers, holding pre-summit meetings this Saturday, to keep debt reduction promises they made last year. The Jubilee campaign, which has the blessing of the Pope, is a coalition of more than 80 groups (including CAFOD, TROCAIRE, Christian Aid, Anglican, Methodist and Jewish groups, aid organisations, trade unions and associations). They are planning a worldwide series of actions in the run-up to the summit which starts on 21 July. Marlene Barrett from Jubilee explained: "At the Cologne summit last year, the G8 promised to cancel 100 billion dollars of debt of the poorest countries. One year on, hardly any of this has been delivered. The rich leaders are still taking money from the poorest countries. The lives of 19,000 children are still lost every day because of debt." The Countdown to Okinawa campaign was launched at the UN Social Summit in Geneva on 23 June this year. On 24 June, Bono and Thom Yorke launched an e-mail petition action at the Glastonbury music festival. Today (3 July), Jubilee 2000 release their new report, 'Island Mentality', which will reveal the cost - both human and financial - of the G8's failure to take action on debt. The G8 finance ministers meet at Fukuoka on Saturday to settle most of the key decisions that will be announced at Okinawa two weeks later. Marlene said: "The finance ministers will probably try to reiterate the 100% pledges that they have already made individually, and let everyone think the debt problem has been solved. But that is misleading as the G8 countries are still collecting debt payments. We want them to stop now." Campaigners around the world are planning official demonstrations at G8 finance ministries and embassies, to exert maximum pressure on the ministers before they set out for Fukuoka. The UK action takes place on Thursday, 6 July, at 12.30pm at the Treasury in Whitehall, London (nearest tube Westminster) In Bangladesh, campaigners are holding a symbolic hunger strike, calling for a new process of independent arbitration, so that countries like Bangladesh can receive the debt cancellation they need even if the IMF considers them not eligible for the HIPC initiative. Across Africa, a day of action takes place on 15 July. A concert will be held in Eagle Square, Abuja, Nigeria, supported by leading Nigerian artists including Victor Owaifo and Skidd Ikemefuna. A nationwide petition backed by the Nigerian State assembly will be collected. In South Africa, Graca Machel will help to publicise the terrible consequences of debt. Other African campaigns are planning human chains and demonstrations at creditor embassies. In South America and the Caribbean a week of actions starts on 17 July just before the Summit opens. On Friday 21 July, the first day of the Summit, Jubilee 2000 are planning the 'biggest internet action ever' . For more details about events in the run-up to the Okinawa summit visit these sites:

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