Debt Relief for the Poorest Countries – Ed O’Rourke

This article is buried in the NY Times pandemic coverage.

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The U.N. says $90 billion is needed to help poor regions weather the economic meltdown. It has $1 billion.

Homeless people lining up at a food distribution center in Bangkok this month. United Nations officials are predicting that half a billion people will be pushed into poverty this year.Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

The top relief official at the United Nations says it will probably take $90 billion in humanitarian aid to protect vulnerable populations from the economic devastation of the pandemic — about 90 times what the international organization has managed to raise so far.

The official, Mark Lowcock, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, gave the estimate in videoconference briefings with reporters this week. His office’s resources focus overwhelmingly on poorer parts of the world when disaster strikes.

While $90 billion may sound like a staggering figure, he said, it represents a tiny fraction of the roughly $8 trillion in economic stimulus money that governments around the world have pledged to counter the impact of the disease.


And providing aid sooner rather than later, he said, would mitigate the long-term and far costlier economic destruction that the most disadvantaged countries face from the pandemic.

“It’s a 1 percent investment — that’s a small thing to do,” he said. “It avoids a one-year problem becoming a 10-year problem.”

So far, in much of the developing world, the economic stimulus packages and support to those rendered unemployed because of the pandemic have been weak or nonexistent. At the same time, half a billion people will be pushed into poverty this year, reversing a 22-year decline.

Mr. Lowcock offered his cost estimate as the United Nations is intensifying calls for humanitarian donations just to meet the most immediate needs raised by the pandemic.

Secretary General António Guterres said on Thursday that the organization’s $2 billion response plan
U.N. Issues $2 Billion Appeal to Combat Virus and Urges Aid for Other Cr…Without continued humanitarian assistance, the U.N. warned, crisis areas will be unable to contain the coronavir…

 for the most vulnerable populations, which he announced last month, is only half filled. “The plan must be fully funded,” he said.

The world condition that emerges from this pandemic will be different than it was before.  I am hoping that our new world order will be one without poverty and an environmental economic order.

Debt relief will go a long way.  This article is buried in the NY Times virus coverage.



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