22 January 2010


In the wake of the horrific disaster in Haiti the January Newsletter of Edmund Rice International has issued an action alert to members of the Edmund Rice Network urging them to sign a petition asking for the cancellation of Haiti’s debts to western financial institutions.

"No doubt we have all been shocked by the terrible disaster in Haiti.

People and governments all around the world have responded generously to provide emergency assistance in this time of dire need.

However experience shows that inevitably the story will fade from our consciousness as the attention of the media moves to other issues.

The effects of the earthquake have been magnified by the extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure in Haiti, a situation that has existed for many years and which the global community has failed to address.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign reminds us that the world's poorest countries pay almost $100 million every day to the rich world.

Apart from donating money another way of assisting countries like Haiti to get back on their feet is to support the debt relief campaign.”

Readers of this newsletter are encouraged to sign the online petition asking creditors to act immediately to cancel Haiti's debts.

You can subscribe to the newsletter via the Edmund Rice International website.


"If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation" - these words, which might come as a surprise to many, is the title of the statement issued by Benedict XVI to mark the World Day of Peace on Jan 1st.

In the statement the pope expresses the conviction that the environment is God’s gift to all, that the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all of humanity, especially the poor and generations yet to come, and that we cannot remain indifferent to issues such as climate change, 'environmental refugees' and the potential for future conflict over access to natural resources.

Benedict advocates the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion of the common good, on responsibility, the recognition of the need for lifestyle changes and the virtue of prudence.

He also urges that encouragement be given to direct technological and scientific research to address environmental problems making particular reference to the "immense potential of solar energy."

He links the protection of creation and peacemaking and identifies this as an urgent and major area of challenge facing world leaders and all who are concerned for the future of humanity.


According to a recent story in the Melbourne 'Age', underwear is the latest in a series of new products on the Australian Fairtrade market - one of the fastest growing in the world, with sales up 80 per cent last year to $23 million.

Until now most sales of Fairtrade products have been of coffee, tea and chocolate - and the Fairtrade share of the chocolate market received a recent boost with the announcement by Cadburys that its Dairy Milk bars would carry the Fairtrade label by Easter – but with the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International broadening its reach to include cotton in its Fairtrade Certification program in 2005, the purchase of Fairtrade clothing is now possible.

Although cotton has been used for clothing by humans for thousands of years, in the last two hundred years it has been associated with some of the more serious abuses of human rights and the environment these include slavery on US cotton plantations, child labour in British cotton mills, the diversion of water resources, pollution from fertiliser run-off (cotton uses 25% of the world’s insecticides) and distortion of the world trading system by heavy subsidies to cotton growers in the developed world.

Fair Trade certified organically grown Fair Trade cotton has brought fairer prices fro cotton growers in Africa and India and encouraged better farming practices.


The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton has pulled out of a nickel mining project in the Philippines and has reportedly sold its 40 percent stake in the A$24.7 billion project to its local joint-venture partner AMCOR.

The withdrawal follows a campaign by the English Caritas agency CAFOD over allegations of bribery by AMCOR.

As part of its Unearth Justice campaign, CAFOD claimed that local people were kept in the dark about the project which, it said, could lead to soil erosion, landslides, flash floods and pollution that could affect the livelihoods of 65,000 people.

CAFOD has claimed that government officials and AMCOR had offered bribes to gain support for the mine and to silence criticism.

CAFOD is continuing its call for a new consent process before work starts on the mine at Macambol in Davao Oriental province.

More than 6,000 cards, emails and protest letters were sent to BHP Billiton again demonstrating the power of ordinary people to make a difference.

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