The new Moderators of General Assembly, Claire Downing and Peter Pay, have joined 75 other faith leaders to call for a ‘debt jubilee’ for the 77 poorest nations as they deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Saving lives in this pandemic is not only a health challenge, but a financial one too. Around the world, preventing the spread of the disease has required the shutting down of whole sectors of the economy on which many people depend for their livelihoods. In the UK the government has poured resources into supporting people through the resulting crisis – with welfare support, food parcels, business loans and job guarantee schemes, alongside making massive investments into the necessary health infrastructure, staffing and equipment.
As the virus spreads in some of the world’s poorest countries, similar challenges are faced – but governments are starting from a position of significantly more fragile economies and health systems, and simply don’t have the same resources to draw on. The World Bank estimates that between 71-100 million people risk falling into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.