Caritas urges debt relief for poor nations

Caritas urges debt relief for poor nations

As finance ministers representing the world’s wealthiest countries prepare to meet online, Caritas Internationalis has echoed Pope Francis’ call for debt relief to poor countries reeling from war, poverty and the coronavirus pandemic.

Presenting the organisation’s annual report at an online media briefing on July 17, Aloysius John, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, said the debt of poor countries “is often paid for by the sweat and toil of the poorest in these nations” who live in dire poverty and are “easy prey to all kinds of health problems”.

“Caritas calls for the reduction of debt of the poorest nations and for the reallocation of the funds to reliable organisations who work with these communities, in particular faith-based organisations,” Mr John said.

“Only the reduction of debt and its reallocation for development at the grassroots will enable the achievement of the sustainable development goals and ensure the dignity of the poorest,” he said.

The secretary-general also called for a global ceasefire, as well as an end to the use of economic sanctions in the Middle East, particularly against Syria.

“The effects of the sanctions as a political tool have proved to be useless, but they have shown enormous power to destroy the lives of poor civilians,” he said.

Mr John made the appeal as finance ministers and central bank governors of leading rich and developing nations, commonly known as the G-20, were set to meet to discuss the global economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The members of the G-20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Britain, the United States and the European Union.

Although the World Bank and the G-20 endorsed an initiative in April that would grant debt-service suspension to poor countries, all low-income countries are still obliged to pay an estimated €2.5 billion per month in debt repayments throughout 2020.