Archbishop of Wales calls for ‘unprecedented response’ to global Covid-19 ‘disaster’

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies. Picture by Christian Aid

The Archbishop of Wales has called for an “unprecedented response” to the Covid-19 crisis as a Christian Aid report warns of an impending global disaster.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated deep inequalities around the world that could collapse into ‘disaster’ if a recovery plan does not address those inequalities, according to the report.

“This Christian Aid report does not hold back in calling for a global response to help our brothers and sisters in great need,” Archbishop of Wales John Davies said.

“An unprecedented time demands an unprecedented response and I urge the government to show compassion and generosity in fulfilling its international duty.”

The Building Back with Justice report on the effects of the coronavirus, says that “without swift and robust action, the crisis in some of the poorest countries threatens to become a disaster”.

Christian Aid is calling for universal debt payments to be scrapped for 12 months for 76 low-income countries. Eradicating debt could be one of the faster ways to free up resources for some of the countries worst affected by the pandemic and its economic effects, they say.

Cynan Llwyd, Head of Christian Aid in Wales, said that rich countries had been able to inject huge sums of money to support their economy while poor countries are burdened with large debts that have yet to be written off.

“If the wealthiest countries do not step up and support a universal response and recovery plan that includes debt write-off, we will see the current crisis turn to repeat the disaster of the lost decade of Africa and Latin America in the 1980s,” he said.

 

Child labour

The report notes how some countries have already seen an increase in the price of food, as well as disrupting health care programs, such as immunization and maternal care.

The report says that, “In many countries, the disruption to health care other than Covid could lead to far more deaths than the virus itself.”

In countries with poor sanitation, safeguards against Covid- 19, like frequent hand washing, are much more of a challenge.

In addition, 90% of school children have lost part of their education and many students may never go back – especially girls.

The report says, “The experience of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa shows that school closures have led to a higher level of girls leaving school permanently, and to increases in child labour, neglect, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies and young marriages.”

According to the report, the recovery must be green and sustainable. The aim should be to decouple growth from greenhouse gas emissions, and to halve global emissions by 2030 and be zero carbon by 2050.

In one of the two forewords to the report, development economist Jayati Ghosh stresses the need to “achieve a broad and just global recovery that radically transforms our economy and social relationships, and puts people and the planet at the center”.

Professor Ghosh adds, “This reporting covers the core of the problems, suggesting practical solutions that need to be more widely accepted. It is an important and timely contribution to the debate on how to recover our world from this intense crisis.”

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