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‘Half a billion’ fall into poverty

‘Half a billion’ fall into poverty

International aid group Oxfam on Thursday urged world leaders to agree a comprehensive rescue package to muster some $2.5 trillion needed to prevent half a billion more people being pushed into poverty by the coronavirus pandemic.

It warned that the economic fallout of the coronavirus risked setting back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions including Africa and the Middle East.

Oxfam cited research by the King’s College London and Australian National University estimating that as many as half a billion people could be forced into poverty, or eight per cent of the world’s population.

“An ‘Emergency Rescue Package for All’ would enable poor countries to provide cash grants to those who have lost their income and to bail out vulnerable small businesses,” Oxfam said.

Among the measures that should be undertaken include the immediate cancellation of $1 trillion worth of developing country debt payments in 2020 and the creation of at least $1 trillion in new international reserves.

“G20 finance ministers, the IMF and World Bank must give developing countries an immediate cash injection to help them bail out poor and vulnerable communities,” said Oxfam International interim executive director Jose Maria Vera.

Oxfam warned that while many wealthy nations have introduced multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus packages to support business and workers “most developing nations lack the financial firepower to follow suit”.

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