100 people pushed into poverty every minute by economic crisis

By Oxfam

PITTSBURGH, PA – Developing countries across the globe are struggling to respond to the global recession that continues to slash incomes, destroy jobs and has helped push the total number of hungry people in the world above one billion, international agency Oxfam said today.

The economic crisis arrived as poor countries were already struggling to cope with high food prices and floods, droughts and food shortages linked to climate change.

“Green shoots of economic recovery have not reached the poorest countries which are now suffering severely in the global downturn,” said Max Lawson, Oxfam senior policy advisor.

Oxfam analysis of economic data has discovered that governments in Sub-Saharan Africa will be $70 billion worse off this year as a result of the global slump. Unlike rich countries they cannot borrow their way out of trouble. Without outside help governments will find it increasingly difficult to respond to the climate, food and economic crises and to avoid cutting spending on schools, clinics and other anti-poverty programs.

“Despite feeding their own economies a much-needed stimulus, the G20 has not yet provided even half the $50 billion bailout it promised poor countries in April.”

Oxfam is calling for a $290 billion package of measures to ease the burden on developing countries without hitting ordinary taxpayers. The package includes a ‘Tobin tax’ on currency transactions, a debt moratorium and a crackdown on tax havens.

“Existing aid levels are not enough to protect the status quo never mind reduce poverty in the face of the economic crisis, climate change and rising food prices,” said Lawson.

“The G20 has the chance to change the bad habits of the past and come up with new solutions to the problems facing poor people. A currency transaction levy on the banks that helped cause the global slump could bring in $50 billion to help those suffering in a crisis they did nothing to cause. It is time bankers paid a bonus to the world’s poor.”

Oxfam is also calling on G20 leaders to fulfill a promise made by President Obama in July to deliver new funds to help poor countries cope with climate change. This funding is vital to break the deadlock in climate change negotiations leading up to the make-or-break UN Summit in Copenhagen in December. Oxfam calculates that $50 billion per year is needed to help poor countries cope with climate change and another $100 billion is needed to help them control their emissions.

“The clock is ticking on the chances of a fair deal to prevent misery for millions at risk from climate change. It is time for G20 leaders to stand up and deliver the money needed to protect poor people,” said Oxfam climate change advisor David Waskow.

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