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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 June 2005, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
UK campaigners react to debt deal
Bob Geldof
Further debt relief, trade justice and more aid still needed, said Geldof
Anti-poverty campaigners in the UK have welcomed a debt relief deal for some of the world's poorest nations as a "first step", but called for more to be done.

Groups such as Oxfam and Make Poverty History said far more had to be spent on debt relief and aid, and that trade justice should be delivered.

The deal will initially see 18 poor countries have their debts written off.

While hailing the deal, agreed by G8 ministers, as a "victory", Bob Geldof added: "This is the beginning."

'Hurdles'

Geldof said: "Tomorrow 280 million Africans will wake up for the first time in their lives without owing you or me a penny from the burden of debt that has crippled them for so long.

"This is already a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world.

"We must be clear that this is the beginning and the end will not be achieved until we have the complete package demanded by the Commission for Africa of debt cancellation, doubling of aid, and trade justice."

He said this must be achieved by the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

What is very disappointing is the lack of any substantial concrete commitment on aid
Romilly Greenhill, Action Aid

Oxfam's Max Lawson agreed G8 leaders still had "many hurdles to clear".

He said with just weeks to go until the summit, on 6-8 July, the "race was on".

"This first hurdle - debt cancellation - is only worth US$2bn (800m) a year at most for poor countries.

"G8 leaders need to urgently pick up the pace, respond to the calls of millions of campaigners around the world and put up an extra US$50bn (27.5bn) of aid to fund the fight against poverty."

A spokesman for the Jubilee Debt Campaign said while there was "more work to be done," the deal had gone much further than had been expected following previous meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Chancellor Gordon Brown
Chancellor Gordon Brown announced the plan in London

Stephen Rand of the Make Poverty History coalition said this first step was "significant".

"While this is only cancellation of some of the debt of some of the countries, it does mean they will have real money that can help stop children dying unnecessarily as a result of extreme poverty.

"But more still needs to be done - more money, even more countries and other types of debt."

Henry Northover, of Catholic charity Cafod, said more debt relief was needed but that it was only part of the solution.

Reiterating the call for a doubling of aid, Cafod also said rich nations must deliver on trade justice and an end to "forced liberalisation and harmful export subsidies".

Health spending

While the debt deal was good news for the 18 countries to benefit it would do little to "immediately help millions in at least 40 other countries that also need 100% debt relief," said Romilly Greenhill, of Action Aid.

"What is very disappointing is the lack of any substantial concrete commitment on aid."

Anna Thomas, a senior policy adviser at Christian Aid and part of the Make Poverty History campaign, said this "small beginning" failed to address problems in countries like Malawi, which will not qualify for initial debt relief.

She said state spending there on debt was higher than spending on health.

"That is in a country where one in five people are infected with HIV."




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