Regional churches pushing for hurricane-triggered debt relief

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Regional churches pushing for hurricane-triggered debt relief
Hurricane Maria caused widespread destruction in Dominica and across the Caribbean
Hurricane Maria caused widespread destruction in Dominica and across the Caribbean

(DNO) – Churches in the Caribbean are calling for the establishment of debt relief as an instrument for emergency support and reconstruction.

Under the banner of Jubilee Caribbean, various religious denominations from around the region are urging governments in the Caribbean and the international financial institutions to act quickly on that proposal ahead of the next hurricane season which begins in June.

A Jubilee Caribbean release states that “all research points to the fact that the growing severity of hurricanes in the Caribbean is related to man-made climate change. This means that we in the Caribbean, like some other nations elsewhere in the global south, are least responsible for but most affected by climate change”.

According to the clerics and their churches behind the proposal, “the few dozen small Island States across the world, for example, have neither the size nor developmental history to have been major contributors to current climate change. Yet these small Island States are the most easily devastated by rising seas and harsher storms. Our brothers and sisters who inhabit these places are in peril, through no fault of their own”.

They are recommending a tailored Heavily Indebted Caribbean Countries Initiative, which will combine immediate relief and an efficient form of debt restructuring.

“We do not want to face the next hurricane season without a proper mechanism for relief in place” they emphasize.

The March 5 release also advises:

· Our own heads of State and Government must unite and collectively demand the creation of an efficient debt relief option ahead of the next hurricane season through all available means, including the United Nations System and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

· The IMF must use its rule-setting power to endorse a full debt moratorium once a hurricane or any other serious disaster brings destruction beyond a pre-defined level and make sure that a serious debt restructuring of all external commitments shall be possible under due consideration of our peoples’ human rights.

·The ECCB and the CDB must act as supporters of a comprehensive debt restructuring process once it is needed.

The 19 signatories include Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, Roman Catholic Bishop of Roseau.

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