Belfast Telegraph

Sentamu in plea on world hunger

Unscrupulous businesses and people who avoid paying taxes in developing countries are indirectly robbing the poor of education, health, food and employment, one of Britain's most senior churchmen has warned.

The Archbishop of York said the deaths of three million children a year from malnutrition is a scar on the conscience of everyone. Dr John Sentamu also criticised corrupt government officials who embezzle funds from the public purse.

"They are directly robbing the poor of their education, health, food, employment and sustainable development," he said. "We say, from this fantastic cathedral to both types of robbers, 'enough is enough. Stop indirectly and directly robbing the poor'."

In his first public appearance since he revealed he had prostate cancer, Archbishop Sentamu called on society to help the most vulnerable. The 63-year-old, who is the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, gave the sermon at an ecumenical service organised by the Enough Food for Everyone If campaign at St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen, ahead of the G8 summit.

"I hope that 2013 will be the year that goes down in the history books as the one where Enniskillen hosted the decisions that would mean that children all over the world, whatever their nationality or ethnicity, could grow up well fed, healthy and able to build their own future," he said. "It is our moral responsibility to pray, campaign and work together to ensure our leaders understand that all deserve justice regardless of international boundaries."

Last month Dr Sentamu revealed he had undergone keyhole surgical treatment for cancer which was described as locally advanced. The Ugandan-born clergyman became the 97th Archbishop of York in 2005 and has been one of the Church's most outspoken and prominent characters. He has divided opinion with a number of acts such as cutting up his clerical collar live on television in protest again Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, and supporting Anglican traditionalists to have exemptions from serving under women bishops.

On Sunday he called on the world's leaders to close the international tax loopholes, to make the right investments to stop people dying from hunger, to stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and to ensure transparency. "If we persuaded governments and big multi-national corporations to be honest and open about their actions that stop people getting enough food, then we would be a global village where want and hunger are a thing of the past," he told the congregation.

Dr Sentamu revealed that when he was aged just five, a severe drought hit his village and his parents struggled to feed him and his nine siblings. But in an uplifting service, that included The Priests performing You Raise Me Up, the Archbishop also said that all around the world, a quiet and momentous change is happening.

"People are saying 'enough is enough' to global food poverty," he said. "We are at a tipping point. We could be the generation to ensure every boy and girl, man and woman receives justice, mercy and love, to live a dignified human life in company with others. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, yet one in eight women, men, boys and girls go to bed hungry every night and three million children die from malnutrition each year.

"That means one child dies every 10 seconds. This is a great scandal and scar on all our consciences."

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