The Drop the Debt Fast is a 36-day rolling fast, to highlight the plight of 36 countries which are among those still needing substantial debt cancellation. We are asking supporters to consider fasting for one day or more, between 12 April and 17 May, to show solidarity with the people of countries still suffering under a huge debt burden. You can find out more and sign up online at: www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/fast.
While fasting, we will also be encouraging supporters to make chain links to bring or send to Birmingham when we mark 10 years since the human chain in 1998 that called on the G8 to drop the debt. These will be used in a mass action at the 'Journey to Justice' 10th anniversary event on 18 May, to demand further action on debt. Fasters will able to download a template chain from our website in the next week or two - but feel free to be creative! So, visit www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/fast to find out more.
Switzerland is willing to contribute SFr11 million ($9.9 million) towards a debt relief package for Liberia, the government announced on Wednesday.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided last September on measures to help Liberia clear its arrears and to provide debt relief. The country faces an estimated debt of $4.8 billion (SFr5.3 billion).
The total relief Liberia is to receive from the IMF and World Bank amounts to SFr970 million.
A Swiss finance ministry spokesman said Liberia cannot receive financial support from the international community until its arrears have been settled.
Switzerland's debt relief policies focus on help for heavily indebted poor countries.
The Swiss contribution still needs parliamentary approval.
One of my favorite Granta issues. This one's from Granta 92: The View from Africa, published in January 2006. This is something for the weekend; something to ponder. (thanks to Angry African on the Loose for reminding me of this!) Enjoy your weekend. "How To Write About Africa: some tips: sunsets and starvation are good" is by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina.
Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Subtitles may include the words 'Zanzibar', 'Masai', 'Zulu', 'Zambezi', 'Congo', 'Nile', 'Big', 'Sky', 'Shadow', 'Drum', 'Sun' or 'Bygone'. Also useful are words such as 'Guerrillas', 'Timeless', 'Primordial' and 'Tribal'. Note that 'People' means Africans who are not black, while 'The People' means black Africans.
Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.
By Brian Swarts | Jubilee USA Network
February 20 -- Today, as part of Jubilee's Measure Up! campaign, a group of global poverty advocates and debt campaigners met with Senator George Voinovich's district representative in Columbus, Ohio.
The purpose of the meeting was to ask the senator to become a co-sponsor of the Jubilee Act (S 2166). Our group of 4 was made up of Katie Andrews, organizer for the ONE Campaign, Ginnie Vogts, an organizer for RESULTS, Loretta Raiford, a local ONE volunteer, and me, Brian Swarts, Jubilee USA's national organizer.
The group highlighted the importance of reducing global poverty and the effectiveness of debt cancellation for district representative Khisha Fallon.
This week, President Bush is in Africa on a six-day, five-country trip to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.
President Bush is seeing first-hand the impacts of life-saving debt cancellation. One of the countries the President has visited is Tanzania. Prior to debt cancellation, Tanzania spent more on debt service than health and education combined. Debt relief - supported by the Bush administration -- led to a 50 percent increase in primary school enrollment and an additional 1,081 schools were opened.
But as Jubilee supporters know, there remains a tremendous unfinished agenda on debt. Vulture funds and new lenders are undermining debt cancellation. More impoverished countries need debt cancellation to fight poverty. An audit of odious and illegitimate lending is long overdue.
The president's trip creates a unique opportunity to focus the media and on Africa and its debt. Click here and write a letter to the editor in response to your local paper's coverage of President Bush's trip.
As you write your letter, check out "What Does Africa Owe?" an article published today in Foreign Policy In Focus by Jubilee USA National Coordinator Neil Watkins. The article looks at President Bush's record on debt cancellation and explores and questions what more needs to be done for the president to secure a legacy that enhances the gains of debt cancellation for impoverished countries.
President Bush's stops in Africa on a six-day visit beginning Saturday (From the AP):
Cotonou, Benin. Arrival ceremony, meeting with the president of Benin and joint news conference at the airport. Flies on to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Meeting with president of Tanzania and joint news conference. Tours Amana District Hospital. Social dinner with the president.
Arusha, Tanzania. Tours Meru District Hospital, A to Z Textile Mills and Maasai Girls School.
Kigali, Rwanda. Arrival ceremony and visit to Kigali Memorial Centre. Meeting and news conference with president of Rwanda. Flies on to Accra, Ghana.
Accra, Ghana. Arrival ceremony, meeting and joint press conference with the president of Ghana. State dinner.
Monrovia, Liberia. Arrival ceremony and meeting with president of Liberia. Participates in roundtable on teacher training project at the University of Liberia. Return flight to Washington.