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African Bishops Urge G7 Leaders to Support Africa's Struggle with Poverty
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Catholic bishops representing Caritas organizations in Africa have appealed to the G7 leaders gathered in Hiroshima to take decisive action in aiding African nations grappling with poverty. The bishops called for measures such as debt cancellation, increased aid, and fairer trade policies to address the pressing challenges faced by Africa.
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Debt is a serious problem for nations struggling with poverty and seeking to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
The G7 summit, a three-day meeting of the heads of state and government from the world's most advanced democracies, began with a focus on various global issues including Russia's aggression against Ukraine, nuclear disarmament, climate change, development, food security, and global health in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bishops, speaking on behalf of Caritas organizations in 23 African countries, expressed deep concern over the worsening poverty situation in Africa, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. They highlighted the growing levels of food insecurity, which have intensified conflicts and social tensions, further destabilizing governance in many African nations.
To address these challenges, the bishops emphasized the urgent need to alleviate "unpayable" debts, urging the G7 leaders to reconnect debt relief with human development needs. They proposed measures such as implementing an automatic debt standstill covering all creditors and ensuring debt relief accessibility for all developing countries in need. Failure to secure affordable finance for development, they warned, would result in African countries being trapped in a cycle of debt.
Additionally, the African Bishops called for reforming the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to serve as a financial instrument. They urged wealthier countries to redirect a significant portion of their SDR holdings to Africa. SDRs are international reserve assets created by the IMF to provide liquidity to member states during crises.
While acknowledging the allocation of $650 billion in SDRs by the G7 countries as a positive step in providing pandemic relief without adding to countries' debt burden, the bishops stressed the need for greater financial contributions from wealthier nations. They called for a change in current global economic policies, echoing Pope Francis' repeated calls for ethical financial reform that benefits all.
The bishops recognized multilateral development banks as crucial tools for financing human development and climate initiatives, especially during crises when other lenders withdraw. However, they emphasized that these institutions would require increased contributions from members and policy reforms to effectively address present challenges.
The bishops urged the international community to take action and restore hope for Africa and its future generations. They emphasized the importance of collaboration in providing the necessary assistance to overcome crises and build a brighter future for all in Africa.
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