Fallout from the Ukraine conflict, growing inequality and COVID-19 could force more than a quarter of a billion people into extreme poverty this year, Oxfam forecast Tuesday.
The British-based charity issued the warning in a report published before next week’s annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“New Oxfam estimates show that 263 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty in 2022, due to the combined impact of COVID-19, inequality and food and energy price inflation - accelerated by the war in Ukraine,” Oxfam said.
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“Poorer countries face looming debt crises and the purchasing power of wages is depressed, while corporate profits soar and billionaire wealth reaches unprecedented levels.”
The World Bank had previously estimated that 198 million people faced extreme poverty - defined as living on less than $1.90 per day - due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another 65 million people are at risk due to fallout from Russia’s Ukraine invasion - including soaring energy and food prices.
The total number of people in extreme poverty worldwide could reach 860 million.
Oxfam called for an immediate global economic rescue plan to tackle the vast problem.
“G20 leaders, the IMF and World Bank, together with all leaders, must act,” it declared.
“They must protect people from the crisis’ harsh impacts.”
The organization urged debt cancellation and more aid for the world’s poorest nations, while calling for higher taxation on the wealthy.
“It’s clear that a herculean response is needed to tackle the catastrophe facing humanity,” said Katy Chakrabortty, the charity’s head of policy.
“Multiple global crises are causing misery for millions of people and just moving aid around to each crisis is not enough.”
“Low-income countries need debt cancellation to be able to invest in social safety nets and progressive taxation on the wealthiest is needed now more than ever to provide huge funds for protecting the most vulnerable.”
Quarter of billion face extreme poverty in 2022: Oxfam