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Development and Peace-Caritas Canada and COVID-19: Responding together in solidarity

The current pandemic knows no borders. Its impacts are being felt globally and it has revealed the interconnectedness between all the inhabitants of our common home. Some, however, are suffering the consequences more severely than others. This is particularly true for women, informal workers, migrants, refugees and displaced persons.

In the face of the crisis, Development and Peace’s mission to foster integral human development is more relevant than ever, as is the message of Laudato Si’, which urges us to implement transformational change that will allow all human beings to live sustainably in dignity. As such, Development and Peace is inviting us all to come together in solidarity to respond to this global crisis.

The global and local impacts of COVID-19

On May 7th, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, presented the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, a $6.7 billion appeal to “respond to the humanitarian impacts of the virus in low- and middle-income countries and to support their efforts to combat it.” This updated plan reflects the urgent need to address the impacts of COVID-19 that go beyond healthcare, such as food security. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the number of people facing hunger is expected to rise to 265 million in 2020, an increase of 130 million compared to 2019.

Of equal concern are those caught in ongoing conflicts and escalating violence (for example in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen). According to a report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, between March 23rd and May 15th, armed conflicts forced more than 660,000 people to flee their homes, despite the UN Secretary-General’s call for a “global ceasefire.” Indeed, the pandemic has created conditions that provide fertile ground for non-state groups and terrorist actors, as well as for some authoritarian governments that abuse their power, violate human rights and undermine fundamental freedoms. 

Yet, at a time when Development and Peace’s work with the world’s most vulnerable communities is needed more than ever, the organization is suffering its own impacts from the COVID-19 crisis. Like many charitable organizations in Canada and around the world, Development and Peace is experiencing a very significant loss of revenue due to the pandemic, which is putting at risk our support to the local partner organizations we work with (Read the Message of our Executive Director on the organization’s plans in response to COVID-19).

Despite these challenges, Development and Peace remains committed to providing vital support to the world’s most marginalized communities through our trusted network of 150 local partner organizations. With no expatriate staff or volunteers in the field, Development and Peace is well positioned to contribute to efforts in the fight against COVID-19, both in terms of immediate humanitarian aid and in the pursuit of sustainable development objectives. Our local partners are always at the heart of our actions (See our COVID-19 – news from the field section on our website).

The launch of a COVID-19 Solidarity Fund

To address these growing needs, Development and Peace is making available a fund of $600,000 to help its partners respond to local realities that need immediate support. Through the commitment, expertise and reach of our local partners and as the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis, Development and Peace is committed to supporting efforts to contain the pandemic and foster resilience by helping to maintain socio-economic activities, human rights and ongoing humanitarian support. A dozen initiatives will be launched in June and will provide significant support to several local partner organizations, notably in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Lebanon, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Syria on issues such as maintaining livelihoods, preventing of violence against women, raising awareness and implementation of health measures and food security.

This fund is a visible sign of the solidarity of the Catholic Church in Canada and a direct response to the call of the Holy Father:

“May we find within us the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity. We must not be afraid to live the alternative – the civilization of love.”

Towards ongoing international solidarity, despite the circumstances

Now more than ever, Development and Peace needs your support to continue to support our partners who are continuing their essential work and who are already mobilizing to reflect on a post-COVID world and a #JustRecovery.

By revealing the interdependence of our great human family, the crisis has demonstrated the need to build a more just and sustainable world. The crisis has also shed light on the importance for local communities to have access to food sovereignty, information, inclusive public policies, control of natural resources and more, and all of which are issues that we have been working on for more than 50 years.

By donating to Development and Peace and getting involved in our movement, your solidarity strengthens the resilience and hope of communities. It helps them to not only be better equipped to face the current health crisis, but also to address the other crises that are looming ahead of us: the climate crisis, the refugee crisis, the hunger crisis, etc.  In this period of social distancing, let us remain united and in solidarity.

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