Third-world debt activists will roll up to G8 in a bus

July 6, 2001

Mathematician and artist Joanna Brown is to enlist a red double-decker bus bound for the G8 summit in Genoa on July 21 in her fight against third-world debt.

Dr Brown, a lecturer at Leeds University, said there was a danger that the success of Jubilee 2000 in persuading Britain to cancel debts to developing nations would lead to complacency.

"What we need to do urgently is to persuade the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to cancel unpayable debts they are owed by the world's poorest countries," she said. "This would free these countries to spend money on their basic health and educational needs."

As part of the Drop the Debt Campaign, Dr Brown will join other peaceful demonstrators in Genoa to spread the message that millions of people around the world are living in poverty because of the consequences of government debt.

"Spending on healthcare in many of the poorest indebted countries has been falling since the 1980s and the IMF repayment programmes often mean spending on education has to be reduced as well," Dr Brown said.

Of the 41 highly indebted poor countries, 33 are in sub-Saharan Africa. Real wages in African countries have fallen by up to 60 per cent since the 1980s and unemployment has risen in many countries. In Zambia, Tanzania and Ghana, more than 20 per cent of the working population are unemployed.

Dr Brown is auctioning a set of her own lino prints to raise funds for the trip.

She will be joined by colleagues and students including two Ugandans studying in Leeds who have first-hand experience of third world debt.

The group will travel on a Routemaster bus decked with drop the debt signs to raise awareness of the campaign and kitted out with a sink, hammocks and a bath.

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