04 June 2005


Thousands demand end to world poverty

04/06/2005 - 15:56:01

photo: BBC

Celebrities and politicians were among thousands of people at a rally in Belfast today to call for an end to world poverty.

The MakePovertyHistory event was part of the campaign to put pressure on the governments of the richest countries to address the issue of debt when they meet next month in Scotland for the G8 summit.

Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol, and Belfast singer Brian Houston entertained the crowd at the event, while Natasha Bedingfield, Ronan Keating and Graham Norton have all endorsed the gathering.

Ahead of the rally, Lightbody said: “We were told about the poverty still happening – you can’t believe that it’s still the same situation 20 years later.”

“The reason is these countries are being crushed under the weight of debt.”

He said the solution was for people and governments in the developed world to take responsibility.

“As a generation, we have to stand up and say “no more”.

“When our leaders go into the G8 summit, they have to know the whole world is demanding they pay attention to Africa and all the Third World countries,” he said.

Lawrence McBride, spokesman for the MakePovertyHistory NI campaign, said the focus of today’s rally was debt cancellation.

He said between 2,000 and 3,000 people had turned up, including politicians Mark Durkan, SDLP leader and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, church leaders and special guest Binnie Mwakasungula, from the Presbyterian church of Central Africa, who addressed the crowd about poverty in Malawi.

Mr McBride said the event gave people in the province – many of whom would not be able to make it to the huge demonstration planned in Edinburgh – a chance to add their voices to the campaign.

Supporters were given the opportunity to write messages which were being stuck on a giant ‘E’, which will be taken to Edinburgh along with the other letters spelling out ‘poverty’, which are coming from cities around the UK.

“Essentially what MakePovertyHistory wants is debt to the poorest countries in the world cancelled without any conditions, and that the money used to cancel debt is not taken out of aid budgets,” Mr McBride said.

He said the G8 leaders had the opportunity to make an unprecedented decision to cancel the debts of the world’s poorest countries.

MakePovertyHistory is a broad coalition of charities, trade unions, and community and church groups including Concern, Trocaire, Oxfam, Street Seen, Save the Children and Christian Aid.

It is demanding debt cancellation, trade justice and more and better aid to the world’s poorest countries to end global poverty.

Later in the year, the MakePovertyHistory campaign will be targeting the UN conference on the Millennium Goals in September to demand more and better aid.

In December, the anti-poverty coalition will be lobbying to secure trade justice at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong.

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