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Reboot steps - cancel debt

In our Reboot Campaign, the second step we’re calling on the UK government to take is ‘Reset’: cancel debt and release emergency funding to help developing countries respond to the crisis.

Written by Tearfund | 27 Jul 2020

Delivery of food packages to 500 vulnerable families in the municipalities of Algodonal and Santa Lucía in Barranquilla, Colombia, as response to the COVID 19 Coronavirus pandemic. Edrei Cueto/Tearfund

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Our Reboot Campaign is all about building a better post-coronavirus world. In this blog series,  we’re focusing on the steps we need to take to make this happen. The second step we’re calling on the UK government to take is ‘Reset’: cancel debt and release emergency funding to help developing countries respond to the crisis.

People living in lower-income countries are already more vulnerable to the immediate impacts of the coronavirus crisis, with limited access to health services, food, water and income. And the knock-on economic effects of the pandemic could threaten lives for years to come.

It’s been estimated that 71–100 million people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic, while 270 million people could be facing severe food shortages by the end of the year. 

This is a critical moment. Failure to respond with financial and economic support could lead to catastrophic loss of life, as well as undoing decades of work in the fight against poverty. We need to act now. 

Recognising this, 77 faith leaders joined their voices earlier in July to call on the UK government to cancel debt repayments for the world’s poorest 77 countries. This would bring crucial relief to help them invest in health care, access to clean water and emergency supplies.

Countries with big budgets are giving financial relief to their own citizens and businesses. A just recovery means offering this kind of support to the most vulnerable countries too. 

The step we’re calling on the UK government to take
In our Reboot Campaign, we’ve called this step ‘Reset’. The UK government should work with other countries to cancel debts for the poorest and most affected countries, and release emergency funds to protect basic human rights (eg food, water), on top of our regular contribution to international aid. Some of the specific ways to achieve this include:

  • Call for debt cancellation for the poorest and most affected countries in 2020 and 2021, including by the G20 countries and multilateral development banks such as the World Bank.
  • Prioritise strengthening public health care systems, education and WASH for the most vulnerable, as well as agricultural inputs and livelihoods support.

For more detail, take a look at our policy paper.

Get involved
This is one of five steps to a better world that we’re calling on the UK government to take. Will you add your voice to call for a fairer, greener world that works for everyone?

Join the Reboot Campaign

Read the rest of this blog series on our five Reboot steps:
Respond: Share vaccines and resources
Reset: Cancel debt
Recognise: Include faith groups in recovery
Recover: A better world for everyone
Renew: Walking the talk

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