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Thousands urge Boris Johnson to put world’s poorest people at heart of coronavirus response

11 September 2020
UK - Southwark - Samantha Aidoo holding coronavirus petition envelope

The petition urges Prime Minister Boris Johnson to support people hit hardest by the pandemic around the world

Thousands of Catholics in England and Wales have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to support the world’s most vulnerable communities to survive, rebuild and heal from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nearly 6,000 CAFOD supporters have signed a petition calling for the UK government to ensure developing countries have the resources needed to fight the spread of the coronavirus by cancelling debts due in 2020 and 2021.

The petition was sent to Number 10 Downing Street six months to the day since the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

The petition also asks the Prime Minister to guarantee that any vaccine developed with UK funding is made available to everyone, regardless of their income or where they live in the world, and to ensure that plans to rebuild from the pandemic help to tackle the climate crisis.

‘Poorest must not be forgotten in Covid crisis’

Liam Finn, Campaigns Manager at CAFOD, said:

“All of us have been affected by this pandemic, whether through the changes we’ve had to make in the way we go about our lives or through illness and bereavement.

“With such a focus on how our own lives have been disrupted, there’s a risk that we could lose sight of the crisis the virus is causing in communities without access to health care systems as wonderful as we have through the NHS.

“Even while our parishes and schools have been closed, CAFOD supporters have made clear that the Prime Minister mustn’t forget the world’s poorest people in the government’s plans for rebuilding from the crisis – ensuring that poor countries are able to spend money on helping their citizens recover rather than having to divert that money to banks and private creditors.” 

The petition has been sent to the Prime Minister amidst concerns that the pandemic is threatening to push millions into poverty, with 270 million people facing food shortages and fears of up to 340 million jobs being lost.

Pope Francis has called upon world leaders to ensure that treatments are made available for those in greatest need, rather than priority being given to the richest.

The Holy Father has also warned that any return to normality “should not include social injustices and the degradation of the environment” and that it would be a “scandal” if public funds were used to bail out industries that do not contribute to the care of creation.

Liam Finn said:

“Catholics in this country are adding their voice to Pope Francis’s call for Boris Johnson and other leaders to make sure the huge sums of money governments are spending to help our economies recover are also used to heal our common home.

“That means building a better world out of this crisis, investing in measures which tackle the climate emergency, keep the clean air that we experienced during lockdown and create the decent and green jobs we need in the coming years.”

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