Celebrities, UN Ambassadors and Christian leaders come together against virus

It’s not often you see Australian television celebrities, Christian church leaders, a UN Ambassador, health experts and an Islamic scholar united in a common mission – but that’s what’s happening today.

Today is World Humanitarian Day and many Australians are marking it with a call to #EndCOVIDForAll.

Posting face-masked selfies to social media, participants in the #EndCovidForAll campaign are hoping to declare their solidarity with neighbouring countries battling COVID-19, and also to encourage the Australian Government to do what’s needed to help them.

“In Australia we have been very fortunate to battle COVID-19 with a strong health and social support system,” said esteemed epidemiologist and UNICEF Australia Ambassador Professor Fiona Stanley.

But the Former Australian of the Year noted that while the pandemic affects everyone, it has not affected all equally.

“Australians know that we have a long road ahead to overcome this pandemic but, while our borders are closed, our hearts are not. While we face our own challenges at home, we can still offer critical support to those who are far less equipped to deal with this crisis,” ​she said.

“T​his doesn’t end for anyone until it ends for everyone​” – Tim Costello, Micah Australia

Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia and a leading voice on the campaign, said:

“The recent challenges in Victoria have only confirmed the core message of this campaign: T​his doesn’t end for anyone until it ends for everyone​.”

More than 150 organisations and over twelve thousand Australians have ‘​signed the pledge’ in support of the #EndCovidForAll campaign.

Among them are many of Australia’s mainstream Christian denominations and organisations including: Australian Christian Churches, Uniting Church in Australia, Planetshakers, Hillsong Church, Bible Society Australia, ​International Network of Churches, Australian Baptist Ministries, ​Churches of Christ in Australia, Anglican Deaconess Ministries, and more.

Other support for the campaign has come from Former PM Julia Gillard, ​who wrote about the impacts of the virus on young learners in vulnerable nations​. Prominent Australians such as Carrie Bickmore, Sammy J, Adam Liaw, Dr. Susan Carland and Mel Doyle have also voiced their support and asked fans to join them in signing the ‘End COVID for All’ pledge.

The #EndCovidForAll campaign comes as close neighbours such as Indonesia and India struggle to contain the virus. India’s outbreak has become the fasting growing in the world, as more than 60,000 new infections are being recorded each day.

“The World Bank estimates that, overall, COVID-19 will push 71 million people into extreme poverty.

Many of Australia’s close neighbours, such as Papua New Guinea, have no running water for thousands of school children to wash their hands. In Timor-Leste, there are only five ICU beds for the whole population and 70 per cent of health posts lack access to running water. Meanwhile, ​in the world’s largest refugee settlement – Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – 40,000 people live in each square kilometre, meaning social distancing is near impossible.

The World Bank estimates that, overall, COVID-19 will push 71 million people into extreme poverty. And on our doorstep, COVID-19 could increase the number of people living in extreme poverty in the Pacific by up to 40 per cent.

This morning, when announcing an agreement to secure vaccines for Australians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated Australia would also look to secure early access to the vaccine for regional neighbours.

“We welcome the news this morning. Supporting each other and acting together is the only way out of this crisis,” said Costello, responding to the government’s assurances today.

“‘End COVID For All’ opposes vaccine nationalism, and while Australia might be rejoicing right now about this deal, we also acknowledge it’s only secure for us Aussies. We encourage the Prime Minister to continue his work and lock down vaccines for vulnerable nations in our region,” he said.

Australians are being asked to join the call and sign the pledge to end COVID for all, and to post a selfie with a virtual mask, available on the campaign’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

This article original appeared in Eternity News.

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