As the social and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic are quickly becoming clear, including a looming recession, growing unemployment and significant operational and supply chain interruptions, the well-being of millions of workers hangs in the balance.
While it is clear that social isolation is crucial to protect workers and to control the spread of the virus, widespread layoffs by companies will only exacerbate the current economic turmoil and further destabilize markets, say the investors.
When you sign our petition, you urge actions that can protect all of us from financial crisis, lift the vulnerable and ensure our world emerges to be more resilient in the face of this pandemic.
Because of our work together, we created global processes to bolster healthcare in the developing world when disaster strikes and deathly diseases spread. Ten years ago, when earthquakes decimated Haiti, we moved the International Monetary Fund to create a process to relieve Haiti’s debt and strengthen Haiti’s health and education systems. In 2014, as the Ebola epidemic devastated Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, we successfully transformed that IMF process. The Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust created innovative healthcare grants, debt relief and hundreds of millions of dollars to fight Ebola and put better clinics in place.
Yesterday the head of the IMF told the G20 she wanted to raise the capacity of this catastrophe relief process that can help poor countries wrestling with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.
And yesterday – the President of the World Bank encouraged the G20 to stop debt payments for very poor countries.
African Finance Ministers called for suspension of debt payments to free up $44 billion to fight Covid-19. Ecuador’s Congress also demanded its government stop paying debt.
On Monday, the leadership of Jubilee USA wrote the head of the IMF and urged:
Bolstering healthcare in developing countries affected by Covid-19 by increasing debt relief and aid through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and other expanded processes
Mobilizing additional financing resources to support all countries impacted by the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus
Enhancing debt restructuring, issuing debt payment moratoriums and creating expedient debt reprofiling processes for countries impacted by the coronavirus
Advising countries to emerge from the crisis with more resilience by encouraging policies and agreements to increase protections for the vulnerable, instill greater public budget transparency, implement financial crisis and market protections, promote responsible lending and borrowing and curb corruption and tax evasion
Jubilee USA’s executive committee, Reverend Steve Herder, Celeste Drake, Rabbi Matthew Cutler, Reverend Aniedi Okure and myself noted in our letter to the head of the IMF:
“Economic forecasts warn that a possible financial crisis or depression, spurred by the coronavirus, could be worse than the 2008 financial crisis. Nearly 100 million people, mostly women and children, were pushed into extreme poverty and 22 million jobs were lost worldwide in the 2008 crisis. The International Labor Organization says the numbers of jobs lost could surpass 50 million as a result of a new, deeper financial crisis… A well-designed, globally-coordinated response from the international community can go a long way to prevent and mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and move us towards a recovery path.”
In the coming days and weeks, Jubilee USA will offer more analysis and recommendations for US and international decision makers. More than ever, we are counting on you to take action and join our campaigns.
With our voices joined together, we can recover from this moment and build a more resilient global community.
Oblate Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI, is an Oblate from the US Province studying in Rome on his doctoral degree in Missiology. Together with the whole community of the General House in Rome, Fr. Fernando is experiencing first-hand the consequences of the Corvid-19 virus. Fr. Fernando and I have been friends since 1994. I got to know him when I was in the pre-novitiate program in Tijuana, and Fernando was a young man who would visit the house of formation as part of the affiliate group we had in Mexicali, B.C. Upon hearing of the drastic measures put in place by the Italian government that included home confinement, I called Fr. Fernando on Wednesday March 11, 2020, to see how he was doing and I want to share some of our conversation with you all.
Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI
The Corvid-19 virus has quickly changed the way we live here in the United States but the measures are not yet as stringent as they are in Italy. In the city of Rome and all of Italy, residents are confined to their homes. Residents are only allowed to leave to get food from grocery stores or medicine from pharmacies. Checkpoints are placed throughout the city to make sure residents follow the instructions. Police are present to verify that people on the street are only visiting authorized places. Fr. Fernando tells me that the closest police check point for their neighborhood is at the famous small chapel of the Madonna del Riposo, which is well known to any visitor to the General House.
Here is an excerpt from the letter. OMI JPIC is among signers.
The Coronavirus outbreak, or COVID-19, has shaken countries around the world and threatens a recession. Uncertainty grows as communities are struggling to respond. We applaud Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to quickly pass the initial response packages. We also know they are insufficient. We come from a variety of faith perspectives, but our moral principles and scriptural teachings all affirm that we must prioritize individuals most in need and enable all people to live with dignity and the opportunity to flourish.
As you develop yet a third legislative package responding to the Coronavirus outbreak, we call on you again to prioritize the needs of people who are economically at risk and their families. We have a sacred and moral obligation to ensure adequate resources reach those who do not have the financial ability to weather this crisis. Love of neighbor and care for those in poverty must be the hallmark of Congressional efforts to stem this health emergency and any related economic downturn.
Eleven percent of Washington, DC is considered a food desert. Those are neighborhoods without a nearby supermarket. These areas are predominantly low income with mostly minority residents. It makes getting healthy, affordable food difficult.
Former CNN anchor and CEO of Starfish Media Group, Soledad O’Brien, traveled to Washington, DC with her crew to interview Gail Taylor, owner of Three Part Harmony Farm for the segment: “Seeds of Change: How Urban Farming is Help Erase Food Deserts.”
Between February 27-29, 2020 OMIUSA JPIC partner organization, Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) facilitated a workshop in Cameroon, West Africa on Preventing Corruption and Promoting Transparency.
The workshop was held at Monastère de Babete in Cameroon with participants from Diocesan social justice offices, religious communities, and local parishioners. (Photos courtesy of AFJN media)