The history of CAFOD’s debt campaigning

Maria Elena Arana, CAFOD’s Campaign Outreach Coordinator, shares three moments of CAFOD’s debt campaigning history and how you can get involved today.

1997: Fair Deal for the Poor 

I started work in CAFOD’s campaign team back in summer 1991. CAFOD then was in the third year of the environment campaign Renewing the Earth.

During the 1990s, CAFOD supported policy forums that were looking at the impact of debt in increasing poverty in many developing countries across the world, but particularly in sub Saharan Africa. These issues became a key component of the CAFOD Fair Deal for the Poor campaign launched in 1997.

Today, CAFOD still calling for debt cancellation for the poorest countries, sign the petition now.

1998: Jubilee 2000

CAFOD was a founder member of the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, campaigning on debt cancellation for the poorest countries.

On 18 May 1998, the same day at the FA Cup final that year, a human chain of over 70,000 campaigners surrounded a meeting of leaders from the world’s richest countries – the G8 – in Birmingham.

By the end of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, over 300,000 CAFOD supporters had signed the Jubilee 2000 petition.

Twenty-three of the world’s poorest countries have received debt cancellation totalling over US $87 billion. As a result, spending on public services rose in all these countries: an average increase of around 40 per cent on education and a massive 70 per cent on healthcare.

2000-2004: Debt cancellation in Africa

When primary-school fees in Uganda were cancelled due to debt relief, the number of children enrolled in primary schools more than doubled, to more than five million, over the next four years.

Enrolments doubled again in the four years after that.

Twenty million more African children entered school thanks to debt cancellation and targeted aid increases between 2000 and 2004. Money freed up through debt cancellation helped build classrooms and provide training for teachers.

2020: Speak up to cancel the debt

In April 2020, the G20 group of the world’s largest economies announced that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, over 70 countries could stop making debt payments over the next eight months to the countries they owe.

This would save around $12 billion. This is a welcome step, however, debts must be cancelled – not just suspended.

Sign our petition asking the Prime Minister to cancel all debt payments by developing countries due in 2020 and 2021 so that countries can spend money on much needed healthcare rather than debt repayments.

Sign the petition today

Join us for an online talk about life in El Salvador

Last year, a group of CAFOD volunteers and local representatives went to El Salvador. In this online talk, they will share their incredible experiences.

El Salvador is a country with a turbulent history: Despite the civil war in the country ending in January 1992, poverty, high unemployment and gang violence still make life very difficult, especially for women and young people.

Farming communities are struggling to grow their crops on poor land.

Climate change is causing more extreme weather in El Salvador with floods, droughts and tropical storms becoming more frequent.

 

CAFOD has worked with local partners and communities in El Salvador since 1974.

We are inspired by Saint Oscar Romero and his insistence on the need for peace, justice, equality and respect for human rights.

 

In El Salvador, our projects focus on agriculture, promoting a culture of peace and justice, and empowering women.

Please join us on Tuesday 28 July at 11 am-12 noon with the priests and volunteers who visited El Salvador, to learn more about the rich history and our work in the country today.

Register to join us.

 

It’s not too late to join us today at 6 pm for our Eucharistic celebration

Abbé Michel Kabongenaje leads mass in the Ebola-hit town of Mambasa, DRC. The Abbé frquently preaches about the dangers of Ebola to his congregation.

As churches across the country begin to slowly reopen, we wanted to organise an online service to allow our CAFOD community from around the country and world to come together to celebrate mass.

On Wednesday 22 July, at 6 pm, we will join in solidarity and prayer to celebrate a live-streamed Mass.

The event is open to communities across the UK, as well as to CAFOD partners and communities around the world.

Jo Kitterick, CAFOD’s Head of Fundraising and Participation, said:

“Online sessions give families, friends and volunteers an opportunity to celebrate their faith in a way that is familiar at a time when we are being challenged and asked to do things so differently.

“During these tough times, it is so wonderful to be able to reach out to each other and to those who are feeling physically distant from the ones they love and their traditional places of worship – and virtually come together as a community and Catholic family.”

It is hoped that the online Mass will be an opportunity for us to come together in prayer, joined by communities and partners from across the world.

Please register to join us.

DEC Coronavirus appeal raises £10 million in first week – helping charities like CAFOD to respond as first cases reported in Northern Syria

This week, thanks to the generosity of the UK public, the Disasters Emergency Committee – of which CAFOD is a member – Coronavirus Appeal has raised an incredible £10 million to help those living in the most fragile states.

The DEC Coronavirus Appeal will help the most vulnerable people in six of the world’s most fragile states: Yemen and Syria; Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Afghanistan.

Donate now

In Syria, our local partners on the ground are reporting urgent concerns about the risks of the virus spreading, as vulnerable people are unable to take the basic measures to protect themselves.

Mustafa, 28, a frontline worker supported by CAFOD, lives in a camp outside Idlib with displaced people.

He explained how they are preparing for what he calls ‘an explosion of coronavirus’ in the camps. He said:

“My heart is beating so hard; we are expecting an explosion of coronavirus in the camps.

The coming days are really critical for us.

“Doctors are preparing for the spread of the virus. People live in large overcrowded settlements in tents with maybe 12 people and no access to clean water. It will be a catastrophe. Disaster. Please help them.”

Donate to the DEC Coronavirus Appeal now

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How does the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) help CAFOD scale up?

Matthew Carter, Head of Humanitarian Programmes at CAFOD with Pope Francis

Join us tomorrow morning – Thursday 16 July at 10:30 am  – to join Matthew Carter, Head of Humanitarian Programmes and Damian Conlin, Head of Supporter Fundraising at CAFOD – in conversation.

They will  be giving us the inside story on how the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) Coronavirus Appeal helps CAFOD scale up protection for people who have lost everything in countries like Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo…

Register to attend with your name and email address using the following link below on your phone, tablet or computer. 

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3803459618244039949

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CAFOD joins DEC Coronavirus Appeal

CAFOD has joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help millions of vulnerable people, whose lives are at risk as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads – and we are inviting communities and parishes across England and Wales to get involved.

Donate to the DEC Coronavirus Appeal

CAFOD’s Director, Christine Allen, said:

“In the UK, our struggle against coronavirus has entered the next phase, but in many of the world’s poorest communities, the fight has only just begun.”

Donate to the DEC Coronavirus appeal today

Millions of families living in crowded camps or makeshift shelters are having to face the coronavirus with little access to running water, soap, or medical aid.

Families who have been forced to flee their homes in places like Syria, South Sudan, and the Democratic of Congo, are especially vulnerable.

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Sarah’s Stars

Sarah O’Kane is a star volunteer for CAFOD in her wonderful parish, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Mumbles, Swansea and a school volunteer in her local schools.

Sarah volunteered with our dear friend Sue Philippart, who tragically died in March. But Sue continues to be her inspiration.  And now Sarah is crocheting Stars for CAFOD.

We all miss Sue dreadfully, but I think, well I know, that Sue would absolutely love and support Sarah’s efforts and commitment to build a Summer of Hope.

Sarah says she is passionate about CAFOD’s work because of its sustainability.

We work in partnership with our local experts, whether priest, midwife or water engineer. They understand what people need as they are part of the community.

At this difficult time, as you can imagine, CAFOD is working very hard to support ongoing essential projects as well as re-purposing grants in communities that are coping with the devastating effects of the Coronavirus.

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A prayer for refugees and migrants, especially the Rohingya

Merciful God,

We place into your care all the refugees and migrants, especially the Rohingya.

God who hurts with humanity, we lift up our voices and pour out our hearts to You,

in sadness and grief, for those who don’t have anyone to hear their suffering and pain,

for those who don’t have anyone to love and care,

for those who don’t have anyone to tell their stories

and especially for those who have been suffering due to this pandemic

and struggling with Coronavirus to see another day in their life.

We pray for the refugees who have fled for their lives,

facing various limitations in many congested camps

and suffering from many contaminated disasters

for the unhealthy and unhygienic atmosphere of the camps,

and fighting for survival with COVID-19.

We pray for their courage of heart and strength of mind and body.

Keep them safe from harm.

Amen

Inmanuel Chayan Biswas, Communications Officer for Caritas Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar

.Caritas Bangladesh

 

“Stay home, stay safe!” But what if your home isn’t safe? The reality for thousands of Syrians…

Apologies for the lateness of this post, but yesterday evening (Tuesday 7 July between 7 and 8 pm), we held a special online talk about what it is like to live with Coronavirus in Syria and the surrounding countries.  Listen to the recording here.

Here in the UK, we are so used to hearing the message ‘stay home, stay safe’, but what if your home isn’t safe?’

This is reality for thousands of Syrians who were forced to flee their homes because of war and violence and are now displaced within their own country or are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

In Syria, there is real worry for people living in camps where overcrowding makes social distancing almost impossible and where the remaining healthcare facilities are extremely fragile. The extensive community networks of the Church in Syria mean that it is well placed to provide aid in some of the worst-hit and most inaccessible areas of the country.

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Why is everyone talking about the Department for International Development (DfID)?

In 2017, CAFOD supporters spoke to MPs

Last week, the government announced that it was planning to merge the Department for International development and the Foreign Office.

Faith charities and international development aid agencies alike were saddened by the decision, calling it ‘seriously misguided’.

CAFOD’s Director, Christine Allen, said:

“Our support for our brothers and sisters living in poverty shouldn’t be contingent on what we as Britain can get out of it – we must have a clear distinction between our aid budget and money spent on British interests.

“Increasingly issues such as climate change, the destruction of nature, and the spread of Covid-19 demonstrate unequivocally that global issues can only be tackled through increased global cooperation, and that progress can be reversed through retreating into approaches based on national interest.”

CAFOD joined forced with other leading faith charities across the country to put out a statement, which you can read here.

Christine wrote to The Daily Telegraph letter’s section, writing:

“As UK Aid is spent by more and more departments, the UK government must commit to the highest levels of transparency across the whole portfolio.

“We need to see a levelling up, not a levelling down, in the accountability of UK aid.”

The full letter is published here.

We also heard from our international partners, concerned by the decision, including the Reverend George Cosmos Zumaire Lungu of the Diocese of Chipata, in Zambia, wrote to the Prime Minister about the decision.

Dennis, 17, on his grandmother’s farmland in Mbala, Zambia

We will make sure to keep you updated as the situation develops, and you can keep up to date on the latest developments by following our social media channels : Facebook and Twitter