The Jubilee 2000 coalition, set up to free the world's poor countries of unpayable debt and described by British social commentator Polly Toynbee as "the most brilliantly successful campaign of our times," will wind up in Britain at the end of this jubilee year, but its work is to continue in other forms.
Relief agencies including Christian Aid, CAFOD (Roman Catholic), Oxfam, Tearfund, War on Want and the World Development Movement have pledged support for the coalition's ongoing activities.
Jubilee 2000 was launched in the U.K. in 1996 with the aim of canceling the unpayable debts of the poorest countries by the year 2000. Churches are amongst its strongest supporters. In just four years it has become a huge and powerful international movement, forcing the debt issue to the top of the international economic agenda.
There are now Jubilee 2000 networks in more than 60 countries and more than 20 million people have signed a petition calling for the debt burden on developing world countries to be eased.
Yet in terms of hard cash, progress has been slower than hoped for, and Jubilee 2000 U.K. admitted on December 2 that only about a third of the US$300 billion that needs to be written off has so far been scheduled for cancellation by creditor nations and multilateral lending agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Twenty countries have had some debt relief, but may still end up spending more on debt servicing than on health or education, Jubilee 2000 pointed out. After receiving debt relief, Tanzania, for example, still spends $168 million a year on debt, compared with $87 million on health and $154 million on education. One Tanzanian child in seven dies before his or her fifth birthday, more than a quarter ...1
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