Global religious heads urge G8, don't use crisis to shun poverty fight

(Photo: Reuters / Pascal Lauener)Members of Alliancesud and Amnesty International hold up masks with pictures of the seven Swiss Ministers during a demonstration in front of the Swiss parliament building, to indicate the Millennium Development goals 2015 of the United Nations, in Bern September 16, 2010. The poster reads: " Millennium Developement goals we keep our Promise!"

Global religious leaders have warned the Group of Eight industrialized nations not to use the financial crisis as an excuse to delay fulfilling poverty reduction targets  in the Millennium Development Goals as the countdown has dropped to less than 1,000 days.

More than 70 religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Justine Welby sent a signed letter with their plea to the Financial Times newspaper on April 5.

"Today marks the start of the 1000 day countdown to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline. It is an appropriate moment to pause and to reflect on progress to date, " say the religious leaders.

The annual G8 summit in which leaders from  eight of the leading industrialized nations will take part in Northern Ireland at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen June 17 and 18.

Brtiain is expecting eight heads of State to attend and the nations attending will be Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The MDGs were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 and the targets include reducing extreme poverty, improving child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS.

"Development is working. But challenges remain," the letters notes.

"The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry every night and over 2 million die of malnutrition each year."

Other signatories to the letter are from Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches and include Buddhist, Baha'i, Jain, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim representatives as well as those from other faiths.

"The financial crisis may be a reason, but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral.

"The MDGs remind us that in addition to providing for the well-being of our own societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold human dignity and the common good at the global level. Each individual has a value that can never be lost and must never be ignored," says the letter.

Among its eight targets the MDGs aim to halve the number of people experiencing hunger, and living on less than US$1 a day by 2015 around the word.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News