Norwegian church leaders call for protection for Amazonian people during COVID-19,

By agency reporter
May 19, 2020

Norwegian churches have added their voice to the chorus of concern for the people of the Amazon as the coronavirus spreads. In a letter to the Brazilian embassy, the Church of Norway and the Roman Catholic Church in Norway jointly expressed deep solidarity with the people of Brazil.

“As Norwegian churches we are in close contact with our sisters and brothers in faith in Brazil and are kept updated of their efforts to serve their communities in these times of crisis, We find the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in the Amazon deeply worrying, causing the collapse of health systems”, says the lette,r sent on 12 May 2020, and signed by the Church of Norway’s Presiding Bishop Olav Fykse Tveit and the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oslo, Bernt Ivar Eidsvig.

On 4 May, the Roman Catholic National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Episcopal Commission for the Amazon) released a statement saying that testing is insufficient to know the real expansion of the virus. “Many people with evident symptoms of the disease die at home without medical assistance and access to a hospital”, it says. “Faced with this scenario of a pandemic, it is up to the public authorities to implement responsible care strategies for the most vulnerable population sectors.”

Indigenous peoples and traditional communities are at great risk, continues the statement, and so are many others. "In addition to forest peoples, urban populations, especially in the peripheries, are exposed and have their living conditions further degraded by lack of basic sanitation, decent housing, food and employment. They are migrants, refugees, urban indigenous peoples, industrial workers, domestic workers, people who live from informal work who cry out for health protection.”

Gold mining, extractive activities and deforestation have increased vulnerability even more, the message notes. “With the Amazon increasingly devastated, successive pandemics will come, worse than the one we are currently experiencing”.

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en


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