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Caritas joins Pope’s call for global ceasefire and debt relief for poor countries

As the planet faces exponential challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Church’s humanitarian organization calls for a global ceasefire and debt relief for developing nations.

By Linda Bordoni

Caritas Internationalis is calling on the movers and shakers of the world to listen to Pope Francis’s appeal for a global ceasefire at a time in which the suffering of millions has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

And looking to the G20 Finance Ministers Summit set for this weekend to discuss the economic calamity stemming from the pandemic, the Church’s relief agency is asking for much more than Debt Suspension for the world’s poorest countries.

In April, the World Bank and the G20 agreed to endorse the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to stave off the pandemic's impact on the world's most vulnerable.

Echoing the Pope’s call for debt reduction or annulment in the face of the unprecedented crisis, Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General said the organization has made a clear request to the Group of 20 Finance Ministers to take concrete action and cancel debts to avert a catastrophe for hundreds of millions of people. 

Aloysius John’s call came at the presentation of Caritas Internationalis’ annual report that takes stock of the current challenges – both from a healthcare and an economic perspective – but looks to the future in the post-Covid19 world.

Welcoming participants at the press conference, Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, also pointed to the consequences of the economic sanctions in the Middle East, noting that not only do they not result in solutions but, he said, they affect the poorest and most vulnerable.

It is not easy or comfortable to listen to the harrowing accounts of the suffering of migrants and refugees, who find themselves even more alienated and unwanted in this time of the pandemic, of people struck not only by the virus but by war, internal strife and collapsing economies and health systems.

Looking to the future in a post-Covid19 world

But John was firm in asserting that Caritas, that has mobilized more than 12 million Euros thanks to the work of its extensive network across the globe, reaching from 15 to 16 million people since the beginning of the pandemic to date, is gearing up for a new start: "a new beginning for the post-Covid19 world."

He said vital aid has reached desperate people in Bangladesh and Myanmar, in Brazil, Venezuela and the Central African Republic, as well as in Lebanon, a country that hosts millions of Syrian refugees and migrant workers, and where an economic and humanitarian crisis is steadily spiralling into catastrophe as the world looks the other way.

“The Caritas Confederation is a living organism that is changing and adapting every day,” he said, reasserting its promise to continue to defend, serve and accompany the poor.  

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, President of Caritas South Africa, and Rita Rhayem, Director of Caritas Lebanon, brought their testimonies and perspectives to the table, highlighting the role of the Church in bringing not only much-needed material relief but emotional and psychological comfort and the light of hope and faith. 

Caritas, they all reasserted, may be changing and morphing in changing times, but it is ever more committed in its mission to show us how to apply “the globalization of solidarity.”

16 July 2020, 18:37