A rapid and massive increase in international assistance is needed to save millions of lives and bring the world together amid the COVID19 pandemic, said Oxfam today. Given the devastating health, social, and economic impacts around the world and especially in the world’s poorest countries, governments – including the US – must urgently and massively increase international aid funds.
In its new report “Whatever it Takes,” Oxfam called for this aid to prioritize prevention measures, health systems, social protection and food security. Oxfam also called attention to the need to reshape the future of aid to help build more equal and resilient societies, so that we are all better prepared for future crises.
“As the death toll and economic toll is hitting us here in the richest country in the world, it will be just the tip of the iceberg as the virus spreads to the world’s most vulnerable communities,” said Fatema Z. Sumar, Vice-President of Global Programs, Oxfam America. “The US government must do its part and re-join the globally coordinated effort that is going to slow the spread of the virus, at home and around the world.”
The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could push half a billion more people into poverty unless urgent action is taken. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, 25-30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. And it could mean that more than half of the global population could be living in poverty in the aftermath of this pandemic, reversing decades of progress combatting extreme poverty.
Oxfam estimates rich countries’ fair share of aid in response to the crisis would be nearly $300 billion, which represents just 6% of the total domestic economic stimulus pledged by the world’s richest nations. Oxfam joins anti-poverty advocates calling on the US government to provide at least 12 billion, recognizing that this is only a fraction of US’s fair share.
While the administration has shunned international collaboration on the pandemic, Oxfam pointed out that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is currently leaderless, which means that the US is not adequately shaping the need for a transformed aid response at this moment. At the same time, the US is moving to instrumentalize or politicize aid, while increasingly blending its development and diplomacy work. Withholding support for the World Health Organization (WHO) because of political misgivings highlights the need for an increased and principled approach to global cooperation.
“President Trump’s administration is crippling any hopes for the responsible international cooperation and solidarity that is critical to save lives and restore the global economy,” continued Sumar. “No one individual, community, or country can deal with this crisis alone. We must work together, in our communities and across borders, with dignity and compassion. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”