THE Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has pledged £60,000 (€68,118) for overseas aid work.
The money will be given to the PCI’s relief and development partners and to its partner churches and organisation towards an emergency response via Christian Aid and Tearfund.
The decision was taken due to the growing global prevalence of coronavirus amongst the poorest communities in the world, by the church’s Council for Global Mission Standing Committee when it met virtually.
The Standing Committee’s convener, Rev Dr Liz Hughes said: “Coronavirus knows no borders and is having a growing impact globally with more than 3.5 million people infected and 250,000 having died.
“These grave statistics point to the worst effects being felt in Europe and North America. But it is the poorest countries that are most vulnerable in this pandemic and the outcome could be catastrophic within a matter of months if action is not taken now.”
Dr Hughes explained that in parts of Southern Africa, already in the grip of a severe drought due to the climate crisis, people are finding their livelihoods wiped out.
“Add a lockdown to the effects of the climate emergency and for many trying to isolate at home, this may mean starvation. This crisis also impacts on the street children, who have fewer people to beg from, and governments in the developing world who are trying to manage with limited infrastructure and weak healthcare systems,” Dr Hughes said.
“In releasing these funds we know that our partners, who are working on the ground in the worst-affected regions, are well-placed to work with governments and church leaders to ensure health messages on hand-washing and physical distancing, for example, are accepted in local communities, as well as working on strengthening the capacity of health facilities.
“Ultimately, they are striving to ensure that the most vulnerable can be spared the great hardship and grief that this pandemic is bringing. It is our prayer that our response will go some way to help,” she said.
Presbyterian Moderator, Rt Rev Dr William Henry, who returned from an overseas visit to Kenya in late February, welcomed the news.
“Our relief and development partners, and our partner churches, need whatever support we can give at this time of global crisis,” he said.
“While we are seeing our congregations doing what they can to support their local communities at home, it is also important that we look wider and further afield, assisting those on the ground who are best placed to provide the support that is needed.
“If anyone would like to give more immediately, please do so, as you feel led and are able, through the Coronavirus Emergency Appeals of our relief and development partners via their websites: www.christianaid.ie or www.tearfund.org,” he said.
Dr Henry concluded by saying: “Please remember our partners in your prayers, for all who are working on the ground, and those most severely impacted by COVID-19 beyond the shores of Ireland.”