Blair's 'heal Africa' tour is doomed without massive debt cancellation

 As Tony Blair begins his tour of Africa, aid agencies warn that the millennium goal of having world poverty by 2015 will not be met without total cancellation of the debts of the world's poorest countries. This is the stark conclusion of a new study launched this week. The report, written by Jubilee Research at the New Economics Foundation, and jointly published with the Jubilee Debt Campaign challenges ministers' complacency on debt relief. Using widely accepted methodologies, the study concludes that at least 39 of the 42 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, (34 of which are African), will need a complete write-off of their debts, plus an increase in aid from the current level of $15bn to $46bn a year, if the poverty target is to be met. The study shows that unless aid is accompanied by wholesale debt cancellation, it will be squandered on debt repayments. This will leave the drive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals seriously undermined. The report's author, Romilly Greenhill said: "Our report uses widely accepted economic models to show that the Millennium Development Goals are unattainable without total debt cancellation for the world's poorest countries. We in the Jubilee Movement are outraged by recent attempts on the part of G7 leaders to block moves to link debt relief with crucial expenditures needed to protect the human rights of millions of poor people. The continued squandering of precious resources on debt repayments is making a mockery of the international community's stated commitment to improving the lives of the poor." Stephen Rand of Tearfund and Chair of JDC said: "The debt campaign has never been about debt cancellation as an end in itself: It is based on the hard and harsh reality that poverty cannot be significantly reduced without it. This report demonstrates that JDC will continue to press the case for debt cancellation with vigour, commitment, and on the basis of fact." Henry Northover of CAFOD said: "Unless creditors are willing to go for deeper debt cancellation there is no prospect of achieving the 2015 targets for the whole of Africa. They must commit policies and resources in order to meet their rhetorical commitment." Paul Ladd of Christian Aid said: "In countries where some debt has already been cancelled we can see the benefits beginning to reach poor people. But without further debt cancellation the world's poorest people will be left further and further behind in an increasingly unequal world." Jubilee Research at NEF and JDC warn of serious consequences for the poor, and for global security, if the findings of the report are not heeded. They call upon G7 Finance Ministers to take radical action on debt if the promises for 2015 are to have any hope of being fulfilled.

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