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A man receives a Covid-19 vaccination shot on April 6, 2021 in Juba, South Sudan. The country received 132,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via the World Health Organization's COVAX program. (Photo: Andreea Campeanu/Getty Images)

A man receives a Covid-19 vaccination shot on April 6, 2021 in Juba, South Sudan. The country received 132,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via the World Health Organization's COVAX program. (Photo: Andreea Campeanu/Getty Images)

'We Must Do More': Hundreds of Advocacy Groups Urge Biden, G20, and IMF to Increase Pandemic Aid

"Unless we take immediate action to solidify more aid and relief, we face lost decades of development and millions more will suffer." 

Brett Wilkins

As international financial institutions convene virtually to discuss the world's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, 260 faith, labor, and development groups on Wednesday sent letters to U.S. President Joe Biden and the heads of the International Monetary Fund and G20 urging them to provide more aid to developing nations and enact policies to avert future crises and protect the environment. 

The identical letters—addressed to Biden, G20 chair Mario Draghi, and IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva—were organized by the nonprofit religious development and financial reform group Jubilee USA Network and call on the White House and the organizations to:

  • Cancel debt and expand debt relief for developing countries to bolster healthcare, protect the vulnerable, workers, and the environment as they confront Covid-19;
  • Mobilize additional resources to support all countries impacted by the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus through increased grants and development bank support, emergency reserve funds known as Special Drawing Rights, and sales from IMF gold reserves;
  • Improve debt restructuring, issue debt payment moratoriums, and create expedient debt reprofiling processes for countries impacted by the coronavirus; and 
  • Support all countries to emerge from the crisis with more resilience by encouraging policies and agreements to increase protections for the vulnerable and that protect our planet, instill greater public budget transparency, implement financial crisis and market protections, promote responsible lending and borrowing, and curb corruption and tax evasion.

While both the G20 and IMF have agreed to temporarily suspend debt payments for dozens of developing nations, Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert who heads the Jubilee USA Network, said these moves are not enough. 

"World leaders worked hard over the last year to tackle the health and economic crises spurred by the [Covid-19] pandemic," said LeCompte on Wednesday. "We must do more. Unless we take immediate action to solidify more aid and relief, we face lost decades of development and millions more will suffer." 

Finance ministers from G7 nations—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—last month agreed to create emergency reserve funds, or Special Drawing Rights (SDR), in what LeCompte at the time called an effort "to confront the [Covid-19] economic crisis that is ravaging developing countries."

"If the IMF and G20 move forward emergency reserves, it means right away developing countries can access more than $200 billion to fight the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus," LeCompte said Wednesday. "We will likely see another additional process where hundreds of billions of more dollars in Special Drawing Rights could be transferred from wealthy countries to developing countries for further support."

In addition to scores of faith-based groups, labor unions including the International Trade Union Confederation, United Steelworkers (USW), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) signed the letter, as did numerous human rights and environmental organizations including Amazon Watch, Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth U.S., and Oxfam America.

As the Jubilee USA Network letters were sent, progressive campaigners on Wednesday denounced G20 nations for paying lip service to the need for treating coronavirus vaccines as a "global public good" while simultaneously blocking an effort to lift restrictive patent protections and share vaccine recipes with the developing world.


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