Bishop Guli writes to MPs calling for opposition to international aid cuts and support for equitable distribution of Covid-19 Vaccines
4th Jun 2021
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani has written to MPs in Essex and East London calling on them to oppose cuts to the UKs International Aid Budget and to encourage the UK Government to use its influence to spur the leaders of the G7 nations to take the decisions needed for global vaccine equity to become a reality.
Bishop Guli has joined other leaders in the Church of England in calling on MPs to back a parliamentary amendment by the Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield, the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP which, if successful, would oblige the Government to meet it's legal commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on International Aid. In the Autumn, the Government announced that spending would be cut to 0.5% of Gross National Income. In the letter Bishop Guli says:
I fully understand that the Government faces difficult challenges in tackling the fiscal deficit and encouraging economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, cutting the International Aid budget to 0.5% from 0.7% is not going to make a meaningful contribution to our economic recovery. Moreover, cutting international aid will have a significant effect on our ability to help the world’s poorest who are being disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic. The result of this cut will be severe for a number of the UK’s flagship aid programmes and the impact will be devastating for people in some of the world’s poorest countries.
On global vaccine equity Bishop Guli highlights a statement made by the Director of the World Health Organistion in April, that one in four people in the world's highest income countries had received a COVID-19 vaccine. In the worlds lowest income countries, that figure was one in more than five hundred people. The UK is hosting a meeting of the G7 in Cornwall between 11-14 June and leading figures across the Church of England are calling on the UK Government to use its influence to ensure that vaccine equity is a priority agenda item. In her letter to MPs, Bishop Guli underlined the commitment of the Church to supporting vaccine equity:
The Anglican Church is committed to supporting global action as an expression of our belief as Christians that every human being is made in the image of God and that the love and compassion of Jesus Christ is demonstrated through how we treat the most vulnerable. We are tackling vaccine hesitancy through trusted faith champions across the world, we are committed to providing moral support to governments to help achieve this global challenge and we are committed to raising and communicating this concern through our faith networks. This G7 meeting is a critical opportunity to enable the global action that is needed now. Please play your part in helping to ensure that it is a priority item on their agenda.
Giving thanks for our own vaccines
As more of our family, friends, and neighbours receive their vaccines, we share a real sense of gratitude and relief. At the same time, we are aware that many communities around the world are suffering as they don’t have access to vaccines and the basics that they need to protect themselves such as clean water for handwashing. Christian Aid and Unicef have both launched campaigns encouraging people to make a donation, as a practical way to give thanks when they receive their own Covid-19 vaccination.