Jakarta Tsunami Summit: Oxfam urges public to hold their leaders to their promises

Published: 1 November 2005

Oxfam today urged the people of the world to hold their leaders accountable for the Tsunami Summit promises of nearly US$4 billion in aid as well as action on debt relief to assist countries devastated by the tsunami.

"Global leaders have rightly come to the table in Jakarta pledging substantial long-term aid. The real test will be to ensure that these promises are kept when the media spotlight turns away from the tsunami disaster," said Oxfam Policy Director James Ensor, currently in Jakarta for the Emergency Summit.
"Ordinary people around the world have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to assist the tsunami survivors. They have every right to be outraged if their government's promises made today in Jakarta do not materialize," said Ensor. "Money pledged must be new money, not diverted from existing development programs or humanitarian crises such as in Sudan."
Oxfam is calling for world leaders to fulfill Kofi Annan's immediate demand for US$1 billion in cash to fund emergency relief over the next six months and welcomes confirmation of the leadership role of the United Nations in coordinating aid and reconstruction.
Oxfam supports some world leaders' rhetoric for a debt moratorium for tsunami-affected countries which collectively owe the rich world in excess of US$300 billion. "It would be immoral for rich countries to continue to reap billions of dollars in debt payments from these already poor countries now suffering such devastation," said Ensor.
Talk of debt moratoriums is not enough - we need action. Other countries must now follow the lead of Canada in implementing a debt moratorium at next week's meeting of the Paris Club of creditor countries. A taskforce involving the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank must also be established to develop a plan to substantially reduce the debts of the worst affected countries.
"World leaders now have an obligation to tackle world poverty and reduce people's vulnerability to future disasters during the remainder of 2005. This unprecedented disaster has thrown millions of already poor people across Asia into even deeper poverty. Meanwhile, unnecessary suffering and death continues around the world from the Congo to Sudan and elsewhere.
"This disaster increases the imperative for rich nations to commit to ending poverty by doubling their aid, cancelling the debts of the world's poorest countries and making trade fair for the developing world," said Ensor.
Oxfam will redouble its efforts to achieve these outcomes in 2005. The G8 leaders summit in Scotland (6 - 8 July), the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September and the World Trade Organization Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December are three critical events where world leaders can begin to make poverty history.


Contact Information

To arrange an interview with James Ensor please contact Carly Hammond on 61 (0) 409 181 454 or 61 (0) 408 556 494.