Published on : 04/09/2020 – 00:56Modified : 04/09/2020 – 10:31
Half a billion people are at risk of falling into poverty due to the coronavirus epidemic, Oxfam warns, or 10% of the world’s population. The non-governmental organization calls for solidarity and demands a $ 160 billion emergency rescue plan.
While entire economies are squeezed around the world to curb the spread of coronavirus, Oxfam is raising the alarm in its new report, titled The price of dignity : if the wealthiest countries do not come to the aid of the poorest nations as a matter of urgency, half a billion people could fall into poverty, or 10% of the world’s population. Unheard of since the 1990s, which has seen poverty decrease continuously, until today.
These people in great difficulty would be added to the 1.3 billion who already live below the poverty line, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). These are the working poor in “rich” countries who do not have access to social protection, such as unemployment benefits, health insurance. It is mainly the millions of people in developing countries who live in slums or refugee camps, whose access to water is a permanent challenge and who cannot isolate themselves to avoid contaminate yourself.
In its new report, Oxfam indicates that the fight against poverty could go back ten years, and by 30 years in certain regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America. More than half of the world’s population could now live below the poverty line as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.
International aid and debt cancellation
As G20 finance ministers prepare to meet virtually on April 15, as well as World Bank and International Monetary Fund decision makers from April 17 to 19, Oxfam calls for “an economic bailout for all -te-s ”to support the most fragile countries and communities.
Several mechanisms could finance this rescue plan: the immediate cancellation of the debt repayment of developing countries for 2020 to the tune of 1,000 billion dollars. Ghana, for example, could provide $ 20 a month to the needy. Oxfam is also proposing to create a trillion dollar cash reserve so that countries have money to increase public health spending. Other measures: the 0.7% increase in public aid from donor countries to the developing country, and the introduction of an emergency solidarity tax.
In order to provide the 2,500 billion dollars estimated essential by the United Nations, to help these countries, 500 billion additional development aid would be necessary, including the 160 billion requested by Oxfam to improve the public health systems of poor countries, and $ 2 billion for the United Nations humanitarian fund, the report said.
Oxfam is counting on France to weigh in favor of these measures with the G20 and the IMF. The Hexagon could even lead the way. ” France can decide without delay the cancellation of debt payments due to it by developing countries for 2020 to immediately help them cope with the crisis Said Oxfam France spokesperson Robin Guittard.
A politic “ fairer and redistributive “
But is France, like the other countries that have entered recession because of the coronavirus, capable of mobilizing massive resources? ” Yes, defends Robin Guittard. It is more urgent than ever that France, and the other rich countries, finally keep their promise to dedicate at least 0.7% of their national wealth to the development of poor countries. For France, this represents 7 billion more aid, to which must be added its participation in the UN response plan. A significant but nevertheless modest sum compared to the 5,000 billion dollars that the G20 has already announced wanting to mobilize for its savings “, He concludes.
The humanitarian organization also asks France to work for a more ” fair and redistributive ” It would suffice for this to impose more large fortunes, to introduce a tax on transactions, to fight more aggressively against tax evasion, finally to suspend any payment of dividends, share buybacks to shareholders or bonuses to the big bosses as long as the crisis lasts.
Oxfam also urges to learn lessons from the financial crisis. In 2008, banks and businesses were rescued by citizens at a high price: job losses, wage freezes and drastic cuts in essential services, such as health care.