Vatican Cardinal: Humanity Is Facing ‘Tsunami of Humanitarian Crises’

Ghanaian cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson attends the signature of the "Global Freedom Network" agreement between representatives of Catholic church, the Anglican church and Sunni University Al-Azhar to fight against "modern forms of slavery and human trafficking," on March 17, 2014 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo …
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

ROME — The head of the Vatican’s coronavirus taskforce said Tuesday that humanity is facing “a tsunami of humanitarian crises” caused by the convergence of medical, economic, and environmental factors.

This tsunami “has spread and spared no human life and no institution,” said Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson (pictured), who also heads the Vatican department for Integral Human Development, and in the wake of the pandemic and its lockdowns domestic violence, discrimination, prejudice, and global conflicts have all “reared their ugly head.”

Cardinal Turkson spoke these words during a July 7 Vatican press briefing, in which he added that the world is currently “facing one of the worst humanitarian crises since the Second World War.”

The cardinal noted his appreciation for the recent United Nations appeal for a global ceasefire, insisting that “there should be only one battle in the world: the battle against COVID-19.”

“Political tensions are rising, because of the decline in employment or the restrictions on movements,” he suggested, adding that the commission recognizes that “there can be no peace without reconciliation and healing.”

During the press conference, the cardinal was flanked by Sister Alessandra Smerilli, the head of the economic group of the task force, and Alessio Pecorario, who leads the security group of the same.

For her part, Sister Smerilli said that “we are at a stage in which we must understand where to direct financial resources during this paradigm shift.”

Today, the first priority is that of health and well-being, she said, asking, “What are arsenals for, if a handful of infected people are enough to spread the epidemic and cause many victims?”

We need an “arms race” against the pandemic, she proposed, while urging the global community to “race towards food, health and work security.”

Alessio Pecorario underscored the need to invest in food security and said that a ceasefire is vital for stabilizing conflict zones and allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered to communities who are at risk.

“Choices have to be made,” he said, proposing that resources be diverted from military spending to medical supplies, foodstuffs, and economic revival.

Pecorario also related recent estimates that the number of people risking starvation would double as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, adding that “human and financial resources and technology should be used to create and stimulate strategies, alliances and systems to protect lives and the planet and not to kill people and ecosystems.”

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