Cancellation of Haiti’s debt welcomed
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said “a nation buried in rubble must not also be buried in debt” as he welcomed the news that the G7 have agreed to cancel Haiti’s debts.
The decision was made at the G7 finance ministers’ summit in Montreal in Canada, which was attended by Chancellor Alistair Darling.
In a statement at the event in Iqaluit, Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty announced, “The G7 will cancel all of Haiti’s bilateral debt.”
It is hoped the move will help Haiti in its efforts to reconstruct following last month’s devastating earthquake.
The G7 is made up of the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada as well as the UK. But a number of countries had already signalled they will not be pursuing money owed by Haiti which is calculated to be £570m.
Christian Aid handed the Treasury a petition with 15,000 signatures, urging the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, to help in getting Haiti’s international debt cancelled.
The petition was delivered just before the G7 finance ministers’ meeting in Canada.
Meanwhile, Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne, president of Caritas Haiti, told a press conference in Rome that last month’s earthquake has left 180,000 dead, 185,000 injured, and 200,000 missing. In addition, 1.5 million of Haiti’s 8.8 million people are refugees in their own country.
“Education cannot take place because there are no schools,” he said. “Fifteen major churches in Port-au-Prince are gone, starting with the cathedral. There are no houses for priests and religious who were in charge of these parishes.”
Haiti was rated as the western hemisphere’s poorest nation before the earthquake hit.
Last year international lenders cancelled around £700m of the Caribbean state’s debt owed to various bodies including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the US government.