Cancel rather than suspend debt payments from the world’s poorest countries to help COVID recovery

Catholic Bishops and other representatives from the UK’s faith communities have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to urge him to push for debt cancellation at a G20 finance summit taking place on 18-19 July.

In a letter published in the Guardian, the faith leaders argue that the move will help millions of at-risk people in some of the world’s poorest countries as the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.

The signatories – 77 bishops, rabbis, imams and others, including the director of the Catholic overseas aid charity CAFOD – are also calling on the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and private creditors to cancel debt payments owed in 2020 and 2021 by these countries.

The World Bank estimates that between 71-100 million people risk falling into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The World Food Programme forecasts that around 270 million people around the world will face acute food insecurity by the end of this year.

“To insist on debt repayment in the face of the suffering caused by this pandemic would be an affront to the faith traditions that we represent,” say the letter’s signatories. “Indeed, there is an overarching moral case for debt relief in many faiths.”

Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton and Chair of the Bishops’ department for International Affairs, alongside Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford and the Lead Bishop for Environmental Affairs signed the letter.


You can read or download the letter complete with a full list of signatories.

Visit CAFOD’s site for more on debt cancellation.