We join with others who share a vocation to be peacemakers and a commitment to work for the health and wholeness of the human and created world.
As part of our global response to COVID-19, the United Church joined with Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC) and Nobel Women’s Initiative in a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francois-Philippe Champagne, urging the Canadian government to ensure that humanitarian assistance is not impeded by economic and political sanctions during this unprecedented health crisis.
The three signatory organizations have active partnerships with organizations and friends in Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Gaza, Iran, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe working for a peaceful end to conflict, the creation of conditions for reconciliation and peace, and the provision of basic necessities to those with limited access. The letter notes that even in cases where sanctions do not shut out humanitarian aid, humanitarian agencies still face challenges in getting essential funding to local partners. Given the threat that COVID-19 presents to the most vulnerable, it is essential that sanctions do not block the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilian populations in these and other countries.
While applauding the Canadian government’s support of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire and the recent announcement of $159.5 million to support the global COVID-19 response, The United Church of Canada, Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC), and Nobel Women’s Initiative ask that Canada also demonstrate its commitment to international and humanitarian law in this time of widespread crisis. Repealing Canadian unilateral economic and political sanctions and providing support to Canadian and other international nongovernmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance in countries experiencing global sanctions, embargoes, or blockades can prevent “severe negative consequences on women, children, the elderly, the disabled, and those living in impoverished communities.”