Campaigners calling for the cancellation of poor country debts have begun a 36-day rolling fast, ahead of the tenth anniversary of the Drop the Debt campaign in May.
They are demanding debt cancellation for 36 poor countries which still desperately need it - ten years after the G8 promised to drop the debt.
Stephen Rand, Co Chair of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “The rich world needs to pick up the pace as these countries are still suffering under a huge debt burden, while millions of their people live in extreme poverty.”
The fast began on Saturday as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund held their Spring Meetings in Washington DC.
It will end on Sunday 18 May when campaigners mark the 10th anniversary of the Birmingham G8 human chain.
Each day will focus on one country that urgently needs the chains of unpayable and unjust debts to be broken - which started with Liberia on Saturday. Other countries covered by the fast include Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya, Indonesia, Ecuador, the Philippines and Jamaica.
Supporters are being urged to sign up for a period of time, at least a day, when they will fast.
“Some are choosing a day linked to a country that they have a particular interest in,” said Sarah Williams of Jubilee Debt Campaign, “and some churches are making sure that someone in their congregation covers every one of the 36 days.”
In Birmingham the fast was launched with speakers including Caroline Spelman MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Steve McCabe, MP for Hall Green. The launch was part of a short service led by the Revd Stewart Jones of St Martin's Church who also fasted for Liberia.
Other faith leaders taking part in the fast include the Very Revd Bob Wilkes (fasting for Tajikistan), theologian Robert Beckford (Jamaica), Ann and Yann Lovelock (among a group of Buddhists fasting for Mongolia), and members of the Jewish community who will fast for Moldova.
While fasting, people are being asked to make a chain to bring to the Journey to Justice event on 18 May in Birmingham. 1998’s human chain was an image of the chains of debt that need to be broken. A huge chain will be created in Centenary Square to demand governments pick up the pace to drop all the debt!
A template chain is available at www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/fast  Those who can’t get to Birmingham are asked to send their chains to Jubilee Debt Campaign at The Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT