On February 5, 2015, the International Monetary Fund announced a $330 million financing package for Ebola-impacted countries, including $170 million in debt relief - $100 million from the IMF and $70 million to come from governments. The IMF also announced a new debt relief fund for countries in crisis - the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCR) will provide relief funds for poor countries impacted by natural disasters or health crises.
Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea spend tens of millions of dollars each year paying off debt and are losing hundreds of millions of dollars more to corporate tax avoidance and illicit financial flows. In 2012, Guinea, where the outbreak began, spent more money on debt than it did on public health. The vast majority of Guinea's debt was incurred under 50 years of dictatorship.
The CCR is the successor to the IMF's Post Catastrophe Debt Relief Trust (PCDR), which Jubilee helped create after Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake. Jubilee's efforts led to more than $1 billion in debt relief for the Haitian people.
Over the past six months, we urged the White House to call for Ebola debt relief and to use the PCDR to fund it. In October, 150 Jubilee faith communities acted and prayed on Ebola and debt during our annual Jubilee Weekend.
On November 11, the US government called for $100 million in debt relief for the West African countries most impacted by the Ebola epidemic. US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew took Jubilee's debt relief proposal to the G20 Summit in Australia in November, 2014.
Debt relief has a proven track record of success. The World Bank notes that in countries that received debt relief, infant mortality rates dropped. Debt relief has sent millions of kids to school, provided clean water for millions more and allowed countries to cancel user fees at health clinics. $100 million in debt relief for West Africa is a huge victory in the fight against Ebola.
Jubilee addresses debt, tax and trade policies that impact more than one billion people living in extreme poverty. By relieving debt, ensuring responsibility in future loan contraction and curbing corporate tax avoidance and corruption, poor countries can access the revenue they need to fund social services. Natural disasters - including health crises like the Ebola epidemic - illustrate the importance of these services.