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Published: 27 Jan. 2010
Anti-poverty group calling on world to drop Haiti's debt, 150,000 plus have signed petition
Washington, D.C.-Last night, more than 5,500 members of the global anti-poverty group ONE joined an interactive conference call with leading legislators, experts, and relief workers to discuss the latest on the situation in Haiti and ONE's efforts to secure debt relief for the earthquake-stricken country.
On the call, ONE members and ONE President David Lane joined Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who is helping lead the charge in Congress to respond to the crisis and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN), a trained surgeon who just returned from operating in a Haitian field hospital. Red Cross Senior V.P. David Meltzer and Dr. Joia Mukherjee, the Medical Director for Partners in Health, both of whom also just returned from relief work in Haiti, reported on the latest recovery and rebuilding efforts as well.
"Last night, thousands of ONE members engaged with lawmakers, relief workers, and each other to advance ONE's message to the world community to drop Haiti's debt and provide future assistance in the form of grants," said ONE President David Lane. "Haiti's road to recovery will be a long one, and it is crucial that the country's future resources be focused on rebuilding as opposed to repaying old IOUs."
"The country of Haiti has recently endured one of the most devastating natural disasters in history," said Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology. "Haiti cannot recover from this devastation if it is forced to service debt with resources that should be going towards rebuilding their infrastructure and recovery. I fully support the initiatives of the ONE campaign to cancel Haiti's $1 billion in international debt and that this cancellation be done immediately. Last week, I proposed a resolution to call for the establishment of the Haiti Marshall Plan Committee to coordinate aid and development initiatives from financial institutions, government agencies and non-government to implement a strategy for long term recovery for Haiti,".
For audio of the conference call, click here: http://www.one.org/haiti
The call was held hours after ONE delivered more than 150,000 signatures to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), calling on global creditors to immediately cancel Haiti's $1 billion debt and give the earthquake-stricken country a clean slate by ensuring that new aid comes in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans. Today, the IMF is holding a board meeting that will undoubtedly deal with the situation in Haiti.
The debt relief email petition was launched in the wake of the earthquake. In addition to the IMF, the petition is directed to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, international finance ministers, the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and bilateral creditors.
The United States has already forgiven Haiti's past debts and now only gives assistance in the form of grants. But Haiti's other creditors, including the Inter-American Development Bank, IMF and World Bank-all of which the United States has major influence with-have yet to forgive all of Haiti's debt.
The campaign, which has been joined by partners of ONE like Jubilee USA, is picking up momentum daily. The head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has announced that no interest will be due on its emergency $100 million loan made after the earthquake. The World Bank also announced an interest-free moratorium, which it intends to use to "find a way forward to cancel the remaining debt." Efforts in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to tackle this issue are moving forward, and Taiwan last week stated it is "studying how to offer debt relief" to Haiti.
Just yesterday, news outlets also reported that Venezuela intends to erase its portion of Haiti's debt. (http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1165490&lang=eng_news)
The IMF was the first to receive the petition, but in the weeks ahead, ONE is continuing a major global push to grow the number of signers and build support for Haitian debt relief around the world. The petition will also be delivered in February to the U.S. Treasury Department and to G7 finance ministers during their meeting in Canada.
To view the petition, visit http://www.one.org/us/actnow/drophaitiandebt/
ONE is a global advocacy and campaigning organization backed by more than 2 million people from around the world dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. For more information please visit www.ONE.org
joined an interactive conference call.
is helping lead the charge in Congress to respond to the crisis.
is a trained surgeon who just returned from operating in a Haitian field hospital.
both just returned from relief work in Haiti and reported on the latest recovery and rebuilding efforts as well. Meltzer is The Red Cross's Senior V.P. and Dr. Mukherjee is the Medical Director for Partners in Health.