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New OECD Figures Show International Aid Woefully Inadequate To Fight Coronavirus Crisis, Says Oxfam

Rich countries barely increased international aid by 1.4 percent overall in 2019, while they cut humanitarian assistance by 2.9 percent, according to figures published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Despite the small over-all increase, the current level of aid is far from enough for the world to tackle crises like the coronavirus and effectively achieve sustainable development, said Chema Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director, reacting to the news:

“Current levels of aid from rich countries are woefully inadequate to help developing countries face the coronavirus crisis, which could force 500 million more people into poverty, and cause up to 40 million deaths. We can stop this pandemic’s spread if we act in every country and for every person. Governments need to radically and rapidly increase their aid now to a level we’ve never seen in our lifetimes.

“The coronavirus has caused widespread suffering in rich countries, overwhelming some of the best healthcare systems. In many poor countries, which face high levels of poverty and inequality, the challenges are even greater. The Central African Republic for example has only three ventilators, which are vital to treat Covid-19 patients.

“The UN estimate that developing countries need a USD$500 billion in increased life-saving aid now to have hope of tackling the coronavirus crisis. Rich countries should contribute their fair share by immediately injecting close to USD$300 billion in additional aid to fight the virus. This is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest men combined.

“Rich countries are facing tough times, and all that is needed is only a fraction of their trillion-dollar rescue programs to prevent millions dying and hundreds of millions falling into destitution. This would also mean that donors finally and collectively reach their 50-year-old promise to give at least 0.7% of their national income in aid.

Oxfam New Zealand’s Advocacy and Campaigns Director Joanna Spratt said: “Oxfam is asking the New Zealand government to step up to make sure we leave no one behind. As a first step, we’re asking for $25 million in extra emergency humanitarian funding. This is only 0.2% of what’s already been spent on domestic measures – a drop in the bucket. The coronavirus is a problem for us all and we need to make sure we help all countries to get rid of it, especially the poorest.

“Resources are needed now for public health, income support and protection from harm for the people in the most vulnerable situations across the world. In Papua New Guinea, for example, there are only 14 ventilators for their eight million people. The world’s response is only as strong as our weakest health system. Until we are all safe, no one is safe.”

Vera added: “Donors should now prioritise emergency support to the under-funded and ill-equipped public health systems in poor countries. They should also help countries improve social protection and provide direct support to people in need so they can deal with illnesses and income loss. This is particularly vital for women, who often have limited employment rights and are far more likely to be informal workers without any social protection. In 2018, less than one percent of aid was invested in social protection while more than four billion people don’t have formal social protection.”

“This crisis is the time for bold and visionary choices for our collective future. It’s time for donors to profoundly transform their aid to build a world that is free from poverty, that is more equal, feminist and sustainable. As the coronavirus is threatening to set back the fight against poverty by decades, we must now act and build a better future.”

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