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Debt campaigner to visit Iraq for extended consultation with the Iraqi people

Justin Alexander, the UK co-ordinator of Jubilee Iraq and an experienced international campaigner around issue of international debt is visiting Iraq (from to 27th September to 20th October) for a consultation on the issue of Iraq's crippling debt.

During the 1980s many countries gave Saddam Hussein huge loans. These financed his wars, palaces and oppression of the Iraqi people. Today up to $200bn is claimed in debt and reparations, over 10 times expected oil revenues next year - making Iraq the most indebted country in the world relative to export earnings. It is widely accepted that payment would hamper reconstruction and cripple the Iraqi economy for decades. There has been much international controversy on this issue, and even the US and UK governments who have a clear interest in seeing Iraq prosper appear to be undecided on the issue of debt.

Justin, a former member of CEL, says:
    "There is a very clear environmental connection - Iraq's precious and fragile environment has been ravished over the 30 years of Saddam's rule, more seriously with the deliberate draining of the ancient marshlands around Amarah in the 1990s.

    Iraq was the location of the Garden of Eden and the region where most of the Old World foods were first cultivated / domesticated. If this historically and biologically critical environment is to stand a chance of recovering, Iraq needs stability and prosperity. This will certainly not happen if Iraqis are saddled with $200bn of Saddam's debts, quite apart from the human consequences. Debt has been closely linked with ecological destruction around the world - it's an instrument which forces countries to turn flourishing ecosystems into export monocultures to earn foreign currency to service debt (often odious debt).

    "Iraqis had no say in Saddam's borrowing or spending, but they must have a say in their future - a future overshadowed by Saddam's debt. We will consult with Iraqis across the spectrum, from ministers and ayatollahs to taxi drivers, to find out what they think should happen about the debt and reparations. We will report on this in time for the upcoming Madrid Donor Conference (23/24 October) to make sure creditors understand the Iraqi perspective, and we will campaign in line with the views that the Iraqis themselves express."

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