Coronavirus could push half a billion people into poverty

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The coronavirus pandemic could push a further half a billion people into poverty, aid charity Oxfam has warned, demanding that world leaders contain the economic fallout and cancel $1 trillion of developing countries’ debt payments in 2020.

Oxfam is ringing the alarm for richer nations to comply with an “Economic Rescue Package for All”, which might enable the governments of poor countries to supply cash to those that have lost their livelihoods. the decision comes before crucial gatherings of the planet Bank, the International fund (IMF) and Group of 20 (G20) finance ministers next week.

“For nearly three billion people living in poverty and without enough clean water, jobs and access to basic healthcare – and for millions already facing years of malnutrition, disease and conflict – the coronavirus are going to be a lethal killer,” Paul O’Brien, vice chairman for policy and advocacy at Oxfam America, told Al Jazeera.

Up to 600 million people risk falling into poverty as major economies pack up to halt the spread of COVID-19, consistent with Oxfam’s new report Dignity Not Destitution. The pandemic could push development gains back by the maximum amount as three decades in some places in Sub-Saharan Africa , the center East and North Africa .

The findings, conducted by researchers at King’s College London and therefore the Australian National University, also estimate that over half the world’s 7.8 billion people might be living in poverty within the virus’s aftermath.

G20 finance ministers, the IMF and therefore the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development are within the position to offer developing countries an instantaneous cash injection to assist them bail out poor and vulnerable communities, Oxfam says. The IMF should issue $1 trillion in Special Drawing Rights – a world reserve asset created by the IMF – as a one-time stimulus to assist nations most in need.

‘This virus will starve us out before it makes us sick’
Globally, two billion people add informal sectors with no access to wage , consistent with Oxfam. A majority of the vulnerably employed sleep in poor countries where 90 percent of jobs are informal.

Women, who structure 70 percent of doctors and supply 75 percent of unpaid care, are likely to be hardest hit financially. Women also are more likely to be used in poorly paid jobs with no benefits or leave .

More than a million Bangladeshi garment workers – 80 percent of whom are women – have already been laid off or sent home without pay after orders from western clothing brands were cancelled or suspended.

And while may wealthy nations have introduced multibillion-dollar aid packages to help businesses and workers, most developing countries simply lack the resources and funds to try to to an equivalent .

Oxfam says the funds from the cancellation of debt repayments for 2020 would be an instantaneous injection of much-needed cash for several developing countries in dire straights. A tax on extraordinary profits or the uber-wealthy could also mobilise additional resources.

In Ghana, cancelling the East African country’s external debt payments for the year would allow officials to offer $20 a month to every of the country’s 16 million children, disabled and elderly people for 6 months.

With many people living on but $2 each day , the cash grant are often a lifeline within the era of mass layoffs and shuttered factories, Oxfam says.

“So a further $20 for those people is probably the difference between one meal each day or none – between affording cooking fuel or iron-supplemented food for mothers and infants. Is that an honest thanks to spend $20? i might think yes,” O’Brien told Al Jazeera.

The forecast remains extremely grim, with the UN estimating that almost half all jobs in Africa might be lost.

“Many developing countries – particularly oil-exporting countries and tourism-driven countries – are being pushed toward a debt crisis. If commodity prices stay low and if tourism stays slow it’ll this cause a deeper long-term crisis,” Shari Spiegel at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs told Al Jazeera.

Micah Olywangu, a taxi driver and father of three from Nairobi, Kenya, who has not had a fare since the lockdown closed the airport, bars and restaurants, told Oxfam that “this virus will starve us before it makes us sick.”

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