Monday, 25 January 2010

Moratorium on debt for Haiti: Charity or Justice?

Scotland’s contributions to the relief aid sent to Haiti have so far reached 3.5 million, which is 8% of the 53 million pledged so far. Examples of the involvement of Scottish people abound. Take for example the work of Rev. Neil Galbraith, chief executive of Glasgow the Caring City and in charge of Cathcart Old Parish Church. The charity is providing urgent medical supplies as well as establishing the long term goal of rebuilding one of the schools of the island. Mary’s Meals, administered through Scottish International Relief has been providing for the past four years meals for over 12,000 school children in Haiti. However, it seems to me that a deeper level of involvement and going beyond immediate humanitarian relief is needed.

Haiti’s current level of debt is around 640 million dollars. How can a society facing their worst earthquake in 200 years afford to pay interest of about 50 million dollars just to service the debt? There is an urgent need for debt cancellation, not just a moratorium on interest payments for five years.

Reconstruction efforts should be based on empowering the Haitian society to achieve a sustainable society. A moratorium on interest repayment is without a doubt short term help with crippling effects in the distance. This is not about charity it is about justice.

Photograph provided by Cecilia.

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