Religious leaders are urging that Western nations and international bankers cancel Mozambique's debt in the aftermath of devastating floods in the east African nation.With at least 500,000 people displaced from their homes and 80 percent of crops and livestock destroyed by the rising waters, officials say that canceled debts would be a greater boon than any short-term disaster relief efforts."I make no apology for discussing debt at this time," Bernadino Mandlate, the president of the Christian Council of Mozambique, told Religion News Service. "It is a disaster that children under 5 are dying, sacrificed because of the need to pay back old loans."Mozambique owes more than $5.3 billion to foreign creditors, $49 million of it to the United States.Financeers now estimate that Mozambique will need at least $65 million to recover from recent flooding. The African nation already pays $1.46 million a week on its foreign debts, according to Christian Aid, a London- based organization."For Mozambique, debt relief is flood relief," Thomas Shaw, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, told Congress in March. The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, the chairman of the House Banking Committee, and the president of Oxfam America joined Shaw in urging acceptance of a $210 million proposal to cancel the debts of the world's poorest nations.

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