Leaders betray debt hopes of the poor, says CAFOD

 On the eve of the G8 pre-summit meeting in Fukuoka, a new poll revealed today (Friday) that most people in the UK think the problem of third world debt is already over. Repeated announcements by rich countries about debt cancellations have completely misled many people, the survey found. A MORI poll commissioned by Catholic aid agency CAFOD shows that half the population think debts owed by poor countries have been cancelled or will be cancelled by the end of this year. Henry Northover, CAFOD's policy advisor, said: "World leaders have betrayed the hopes of the poor and of the millions of debt-relief campaigners who wanted to mark the millennium by wiping out Third World debt. Sadly, this is far from true. The 100 per cent cancellation announcements made by G8 leaders last year with great fanfare disguise the fact that most of the poorest countries have still been left having to pay back more than 50 per cent of their debt to the rich countries. "The tens of thousands of ordinary people praised by Clare Short for taking to the streets in support of debt relief were not looking for half-hearted measures. Along with CAFOD partners in the poorest countries on earth, they were looking for an historic breakthrough which would offer a debt-free start to the new Millennium." The poll shows that most people would like a major statement from this weekend's finance ministers' meeting to clarify what is happening. Nine out of ten people questioned support the Jubilee campaign which is calling for the complete cancellation of debts owed by the poorest countries.

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