Catholic leaders in Africa have joined the more than 140 other Christian groups’ representatives from across the world with calls on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to cancel developing nations’ debts amid COVID-19 challenges.
Press reports indicate that they have appended their signatures in a letter to those at the helm of IMF and World Bank who are participating in their annual meeting set for October 12-18 to discuss debt relief for developing nations as part of the global recovery strategies in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
The representatives of various Christian entities across the globe complained that developing countries have to divert money so desperately needed for COVID-19 response to repaying debts.
It is important to stress that debt cancellation is the most immediate way to release the funds required to prevent millions of people being needlessly pushed into poverty by the pandemic.
With the pandemic threatening to push over 100 million people into extreme poverty, then the developing countries will not have the money so desperately and urgently needed to halt the spread of the virus. Such a situation triggers a serious situation leading to an inevitable humanitarian crisis.
His Holiness Pope Francis has also urgently stressed the need to scrap the debts of the vulnerable countries suffering from to the pandemic. He said, "We should not forget the historic exploitation of the global South that has created an enormous ecological debt, due mainly to resource plundering and excessive use of common environmental space for waste disposal. It is a time for restorative justice. In this context, I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19. We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages. Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met."
What comes next?
Once the cancellation of debts is fulfilled, what awaits these developing countries?
It is important to note that such a measure does not solve impending financial problems. These countries should resort, in the meantime, to launching income-generating projects that can eke out to emerging urgencies. Such projects need to be well planned since cancellation of debts will not be beneficial in the long-run if it does not go hand-in-hand with productive projects that augur a bright future to the poor nations.
It is hoped that the cancelation of debts will come true as it coincides with the invitation made by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to parishes, nurseries, schools, and families to participate in the initiative “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” on October 18 and 19 with a focus of the prayer campaign to maintain worldwide unity and peace.
Let us pray for cancellation of developing nations’ debts that are struggling amid COVID-19 challenges.