Louise Finan -– Dóchas Head of Progamme and Policy
This week, Mark Lowcock, the UN’s undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, called on developed countries to step up financially and politically to stem the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the world’s poorest communities. The UN’s global humanitarian appeal is still 75% short of its target, with only 3 months to go to the end of the year, and development gains – including in health and vaccine coverage - are being driven back almost 25 years in some contexts.
If there was ever a time for action and commitment to the world’s poorest, it is now. A point reinforced by the contributions to a webinar hosted by Dóchas to discuss the networks pre-budget submission to the Irish government for 2021. The submission can be viewed here.
The panel for the webinar consisted of;
• Stephen Omollo, Regional Leader East Africa, World Vision
• Anne O’Mahony, International Programmes Director, Concern Worldwide
• Colin Lee, Transitional Director, Plan International in Lebanon•
• Maeve Bateman, Director, Financial Justice Ireland
• Suzanne Keatinge, CEO, Dóchas
• Finola Finnan, Director Strategy Programmes & Advocacy & Deputy CEO, Trócaire
Plan International’s Colin Lee spoke of the distress and anguish experienced by those living in Lebanon. So much so that families are once more risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea and dying by doing so, as Europe looks on without a solution.
World Vision’s Regional Director for East Africa, Stephen Omollo, reminded us that children living in refugee camps across East Africa can’t imagine a future right now. He said “Unless we act today the pandemic is going to destroy us. We must come together. I am calling on Ireland today to protect ODA.”
Anne O’Mahony, International Programmes Director with Concern Worldwide, pointed out that for many communities across the countries they work in, a days’ missed work due to lockdowns or restrictions means no food on the table: "8.9% of the world's population are currently hungry. Farmers around the world can produce enough food for 10 billion people. It is not an issue of production, it is an issue of distribution.”
While Maeve Bateman, Director of Financial Justice Ireland called for the elimination of debt repayments from developing countries. “Kenya, Ghana and the Gambia each spend more in debt repayments than their health and social support systems,” she said, stressing that Covid-19 has significantly exacerbated this debt crisis.
So how can a small island state such as Ireland be a beacon of hope to the people and communities our panellists spoke about? And why is ODA so important?
Dóchas chair, Finola Finnan, rounded off the webinar by reminding participants of Dr Mike Ryan’s response at The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's recent Global Ireland conference, where he stated that “We have to protect the space of development, protect the space of humanitarian intervention. We need collective responses to poverty, to injustices. We look to Ireland for leadership, it punches above its weight on the international scene in multilateral diplomacy and on ODA.”
Watch our ODA campaign video here, tag your TD, and amplify the message.