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Christian charity says G20's apathy towards debt relief is 'a kick in the teeth' for poor nations

by Tola Mbakwe

Humanitarian charity CAFOD has criticised G20 finance ministers for not offering developing any assurances on a debt relief extension. 

Many Christian charities as well as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Oxfam have said help with debt is vital to help poorer nations cope with the health and economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. 

But when the G20 finance ministers met over the weekend, there was no change on the issue. They repeated what they said in April, encouraging private lenders to join in with exisiting debt relief initiatives. 

Graham Gordon, head of policy at CAFOD, said: "The lack of further progress on debt relief by the G20 is a kick in the teeth for those developing countries who are struggling to respond to the health and economic crises they face. 

"The failure by G20 leaders to fully cancel the crippling debts owed to them and to secure agreement to cancel or suspend multilateral and private debt will put people's lives and livelihoods at risk. It will undermine efforts towards any economic recovery - never mind a green recovery.

"It is incomprehensible that the G20 is not responding to the urgency of this unprecedented economic catastrophe. Debtor governments will continue to be forced to service debts when this is precisely the time they need to throw all the resources they can at their health systems and social protection to save lives."

Mr Gordon said the G20's lacklustre approach to the issue is most likely due to its economic mind set. 

"The view of what they can cancel or offer debt relief for is limited by whether countries will be credit worthy in the future to be able to borrow more, " he told Premier. "So they're not taking an approach to debt relief which is really based on the needs of the poorest communities."

He named Zambia and Peru as countries which are desperate for debt relief during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"There are countries like Central African Republic, very poor countries where they only have three ventilators for the five million population. They are paying back billions in debt relief each year," Mr Gordon added.

"Jesus came to give us all life to the full and if countries are having to choose between debt repayments and health care or education or supporting poor farmers to look after their land, then you're actually depriving people of the life that Jesus came to bring us. It's a matter of justice. It's a matter of giving everyone the opportunity to have the life that so many of us enjoy in the West."

Listen to Premier's interview with Graham Gordon here: 

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