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Archbishop of Canterbury: UK must rise to the occasion and help world’s poorest

by Tola Mbakwe

The leaders of the Anglican Church and the UK Catholic Church have encouraged the UK to show leadership in caring for those struggling around the world.

In a joint comment to the Evening Standard, Most Rev Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols explained that the coronavirus pandemic has shown how much countries depend on one another because “no one is safe until we are all safe”.

They urged the UK to show love to its “global neighbours” and called out where the nation’s leaders are falling short, namely in foreign aid.

“In the small print of the recent Integrated Review of defence, diplomacy and development was a pledge to return the aid budget to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income,” they said.

“This would honour the many promises made and deliver on the duty imposed by Parliament. But saying the Government will only do this ‘when the fiscal situation allows’ is deeply worrying, suggesting that it will act in contravention of its legally binding target. This promise, repeatedly made even during the pandemic, has been broken and must be put right.”

They highlighted the plight of people in Yemen, Syria and South Sudan where the UK government has announced funding cuts. The Church leaders said less help is “doing real damage to life-saving work”.

“Promises — and truth — matter in politics, as in all walks of life,” they added. It is never too late to do the right thing.”

Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Nichols also addressed the climate crisis and urged the UK to not fall short of its international responsibilities.

“Just as the UK has shown leadership on global efforts on vaccination, so we must show leadership on the climate crisis and that requires leadership on international development,” they said.

They said it was inappropriate to prioritise balancing the books during the pandemic and leave the world’s most vulnerable in a worse off position that they were before the coronavirus crisis.

They urged Britain to set the standard as a world leader.

“Ultimately however, this is not only about ‘global Britain’, it is about morality and fulfilling our promise to people who live in poverty. Too often we use the phrase ‘the world is watching’, but on this occasion it is true. We must rise to the occasion,” they concluded.

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