Cancel African Nations’ Debts, Caritas Internationalis Urges G-7 Countries Ahead of Summit

The Official Logo Caritas Internationalis. Credit: Caritas Internationalis

The leadership of the global confederation of Catholic relief agencies, Caritas Internationalis (CI), has urged the Group of Seven (G-7) countries, which comprises the U.S., UK, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan, to consider canceling debts owed to them by struggling African countries.

Ahead of the three-day G-7 Summit, which is set to start Friday, June 11 in Cornwall, UK, the leadership of CI wants members of the advanced economies to consider the challenging situation African countries are undergoing amid COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement issued Thursday, June 10 titled, “We Cannot ‘Build Back Better’ on Social Injustice,” CI appeals to the G-7 countries to cancel all debts and re-direct funds toward COVID-19 management in African countries.

“COVID-19 put the rampant social injustices in today’s world under a magnifying glass. The only way to rebuild the future must be by eliminating such injustices” says CI Secretary General, Aloysius John.

In the CI statement, Mr. John highlights some of the “dramatic consequences” of debts in the 200 countries and territories the Catholic entity operates in.


“In Zambia, for example, 45% of the Government’s annual budget services the country’s massive debt,” CI leadership says, and poses, “How can a country rebuild with such a burden? And how can it respond to COVID if the few resources available cannot be used to strengthen the national health system – including faith-based organizations providers – that would store and distribute vaccines?”

The relief agency says it has been championing for the rights of underprivileged countries from the onset of COVID-19 and now wants G-7 countries to advocate for funding these countries and ensure there is a “just recovery” for all.

“G-7 countries must lead the way in COVID-19 response and recovery to support those worst affected by the pandemic and support a just, green recovery,” Mr. John says, and adds as a way for forward, “The first step is to ensure that all debt payments are cancelled, including to private creditors. This is the quickest way of getting finance to where it is most needed.”

African countries, according to CI officials, are supposed to pay US$23.4 billion to private creditors; an amount they say triples the cost of COVID-19 vaccine for the entire continent.  

“Caritas Internationalis urges G7 countries to commit to new finance to support COVID-19 response, recovery and the climate crisis, focusing on the poorest communities and protecting our common home. The issuance of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would provide finance directly to governments in the global south to respond to the current crises,” says CI leadership.

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The SDRs available should be used to provide grants for tackling global challenges such as strengthening health systems, providing vaccines, and investing in a just, green recovery, the leadership of the confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service entities operating in at least 200 countries and territories globally recommends in the June 10 statement.

The Italy-based Catholic entity is now appealing for the G-7 countries to Stop debt payments to private creditors, provide new financing for COVID-19 response, recovery and climate crisis, issue SDRs, and demonstrate they are taking the COP26 talks and tackling the climate crisis seriously.