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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020
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Half a billion people could be pushed into poverty by Covid-19, warns Oxfam

A new Oxfam report calls for an economic rescue plan to prevent a damaging recession.

A man in Bangladesh wears a mask. The country has recorded hundreds of coronavirus cases.
A man in Bangladesh wears a mask. The country has recorded hundreds of coronavirus cases.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

COVID-19 COULD PUSH over half a billion people into poverty, the charity Oxfam has warned.

In a new report, the charity calls for an economic ‘rescue plan’ that would see $2.5 trillion used to battle the pandemic as well as calling for the handing cash grants directly to individuals who need financial support. 

It warns that the crisis – which has already caused over 80,000 deaths and pushed countries around the world into some form of lockdown – could set back the fight against poverty by 30 years.

“Developing country governments should also come together to demand action from the G20 and rich nations. Rich country governments must find the resources to help developing countries to avert this catastrophe,” the charity says.

Alongside cash grants, Oxfam is calling for the bailout of small businesses, with the bailout of large corporations “conditional on measures to uphold the interests of workers”.

Debt payments of developing countries should be suspended or even cancelled, the charity says, while rich states should also consider increasing aid to support developing countries.

Jim Clarken, the Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said that “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”.

“Governments must learn the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis where bailouts for banks and corporations were paid for by ordinary people as jobs were lost, wages flatlined and essential services such as healthcare cut to the bone,” he added.

The charity is warning that women – who make up the vast majority of healthcare workers globally – are likely to be worst hit by the economic disorder caused by the virus. 

While the economic impact of the pandemic remains unclear, economists are predicting some form of global recession. 

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Last month, the Economic and Social Research Institute warned that the Irish economy could shrink by 7.1% because of the coronavirus. 

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