Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tell the UK to put its money where its mouth is

Debt cancellation and loans come with harmful strings attached. The world’s poorest countries are told they must privatise basic services or cut vital public spending if they are to get debt relief or new loans, regardless of the wishes of their people and their parliaments. The policies forced on them this way have been disastrous for the poor. (Find out more on the conditions or see our full campaign report.)

The UK government has said it opposes the imposition of economic policy conditions, and last year campaigners persuaded it to withhold £50 million from the World Bank in protest at conditions. But it released this money in December – we think that not enough has changed for poor people, and more pressure is needed. Now the World Bank is asking for more money, and the UK has another chance to make views heard. The meetings about World Bank funding started on 5th March 2007. Please tell the UK to put its money where its mouth is, and use its funding to call for an end to conditions.

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Your emails really do make a difference. To act now, please go to our website and send a message to Hilary Benn.

Vultures prey on Zambia

The vultures are circling! Right now, a private company is trying to scavenge a huge profit from Zambia, one of the world's poorest countries. Please take action to prevent this.

In 1999, a 'vulture fund' called Donegal International bought a debt owed by Zambia, originally worth $15 million and then valued at about $30 million, for a knock-down price of $3.3 million. Now it has sued Zambia for the full amount, plus interest and costs – a staggering total of over $55 million! On 15th February 2007, a judge in London rejected the size of Donegal's claim, after Zambia fought back in the courts. But he nevertheless ruled that under law Donegal is entitled to something from Zambia.

The exact total is to be determined, but may be around $20 million. This would be half of the amount that Zambia is due to save from debt relief this year: but it desperately needs all its money to invest in teachers, doctors and infrastructure. Donegal must not take this money, and you can help.

Jubilee Debt Campaign, together with Oxfam, is calling on Donegal International not to claim this money. Please add your voice to our call - go to our website to take action.

You can also watch the BBC Newsnight report on the Zambia case:

Jubilee Congregations and Jubilee Schools

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Book tickets - concession

The Archbishop of York has warmly welcomed Jubilee Debt Campaign’s new initiative, designed to help schools, and congregations of all religious traditions, to become more active in the fight for economic justice and against poor country debt. A Jubilee Congregation or Jubilee School will affirm its commitment to action on debt and receive an action pack and ongoing support.

The initiative has been launched by a letter to the Prime Minister signed by faith leaders, recognising the commitment of people of all faiths to the goal of ending poverty and injustice. In the year which sees the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, Jubilee Debt Campaign has renewed and restated its vision of Jubilee under the heading ‘Breaking the Chains’. Jubilee Congregations and Jubilee Schools will be invited to affirm this vision as a vision of justice for the world’s poor people and poor nations.

To view ‘Breaking the Chains: a vision of Jubilee’ click here.

How to become a Jubilee Congregation.
How to become a Jubilee School.