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Commission promotes action for debt cancellation

Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission is encouraging Catholics to contact their Federal MPs and Senators to demand that Australia cancels debt owed to the country by poor nations.

The Commission has asked Catholics and other Christians and people of good will to do this on Friday 5 December, which has been nominated as A Global Day of Action Against Debt Domination by groups in developing nations around the world.

Commission's Executive Officer Peter Arndt said that freeing poor nations from the burden of unfair debt would enable them to spend the money they earn from their resources on better health services to fight the HIV/AIDS crisis which is especially hitting poor nations.

"Around 7000 people die from AIDS each day in Africa, but most African nations don't have the money to deal with this disease because they spend so much of their money on debt repayments," Mr Arndt said.

"While thousands of Africans are dying from AIDS each day, sub-Saharan countries are paying $15 billion in debt repayments each year," he said.

"When Tanzania was relieved of some of its odious debt, the country was able to eliminate school fees and 1.5 million kids went back to school overnight," he said. "Debt relief also meant that half a million kids in Mozambique got vaccinations which we take for granted in Australia," he said.

The Commission urged people to take the time to write to or phone or e-mail their local representative or a Senator on 5 December and demand that they work to have Australia immediately cancel the debts owed to our country by poor nations such as Bangladesh, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

"The Pope and Australia's Bishops strongly supported the debt cancellation campaign in 2000, The Year of Great Jubilee, but progress towards the goal of cancelling all debt owed by poor nations has been slow and we all need to keep taking action to achieve it," Mr Arndt said.

Action Needed To Address HIV/AIDS and Debt in Poor Countries (Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Brisbane, 28/11/03)

Text: World AIDS Day homily by Fr Robert Kaggwa (Independent Catholic News 1/12/03)
Acceptance and Spiritual Support Urged for AIDS Patients (Zenit 30/11/03)
Chastity best protection against AIDS: Vatican (ABC 2/12/03)
Chastity best AIDS protection: Vatican (The Advertiser 2/12/03)

2 Dec 2003