London - Global anti-poverty campaign ONE calls on the IMF to freeze Pakistan’s debt as the country recovers from one of the worst natural disasters ever recorded.
More than 20 million people have been displaced by the floods that hit Pakistan in July. A fifth of the country is now under water, with 2 million acres of crops destroyed. Thousands of people have lost their lives and millions more have lost their homes. Severe threats of water-borne disease and malnutrition are putting survivors of the initial floods at further risk.
With 60% of the population already living below the poverty line, Pakistan will need all its available resources to help it recover from this crippling crisis and to fight long-term poverty. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) – the institution that oversees debt repayments - can play a key role in this. By freezing Pakistan’s estimated $3billion annual debt repayment for two years, the international community can give Pakistan vital extra resources to spend on recovery and rebuilding, rather than debt-repayment. Currently every dollar spent on debt servicing is one that could be spent on the flood victims. Strong oversight mechanisms should be put in place to ensure this money reaches the people who need it most.
ONE has launched a petition to the Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, asking him to freeze Pakistan’s debt repayments for two years. The petition is backed by UK politicians from the three leading political parties; Labour’s Sadiq Khan MP, Liberal Democrat Tim Farron MP and Conservative MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pakistan, Andrew Stephenson.
Sadiq Khan MP said: “The British public have yet again shown their compassion and willingness to act to save lives when disaster strikes. When it come to recovering from floods of this magnitude, every penny counts. I know that the generosity shown by people in Britain and around the world to those suffering in Pakistan is very much appreciated.
“But now it’s time for governments to step up and ensure that while people give with one hand, they don’t take away with the other. By freezing Pakistan’s debt repayments, we can ensure that all the available resources go toward recovery from this crisis, and to the people who need it most.
“During this holy month of Ramadan we must do all we can for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. I urge everyone to sign the ONE petition calling on the IMF to freeze Pakistan’s debt repayments.”
Tim Farron MP said: "The floods in Pakistan are one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen. The sheer scale is almost impossible to comprehend and, unfortunately, the end is not in sight. Millions of people have been affected already and it is imperative that the world helps them rebuild their lives.
"The British people and the UK Government have already given generously but it is not nearly enough to ease the Pakistani people's suffering. Pakistan needs all the help it can get and the easing of debt repayments by the IMF would be an excellent contribution. That is why I gladly lend my support to this campaign."
Andrew Stephenson MP said: “I am shocked by the scale of the damage and destruction caused by the floods in Pakistan, where millions of people have been affected and are in urgent need of assistance. The UK has been at the forefront of relief efforts, and the response from the British public has been outstanding, but the enormity of the disaster means much more must be done. I applaud ONE for its campaign to maintain public awareness of the ongoing crisis and I urge all countries to explore all possible ways to relieve the suffering of the Pakistani people.”
Notes to Editors:
1. To sign the ONE petition visit: http://www.one.org/international/actnow/pakistanfloods/ 2. Early this year 215,000 ONE members helped to get Haiti’s debt cancelled after the earthquake. We can now make a difference for the people of Pakistan giving them the greatest possible help to recover from this devastating disaster. 3. ONE is a campaign and advocacy organisation backed by more than two million members worldwide dedicated to combating extreme poverty and disease. www.one.org