A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Development and food security sidelined
The G20 leading economies have sidelined development and food security at their summit in Los Cabos, international agency Oxfam said. Leaders were absorbed with disagreements about how to fix the Eurozone, and lost sight of developing countries reeling from aid cuts, climate change, and volatile food prices.
Oxfam spokesperson Carlos Zarco said: “This is a hugely disappointing outcome for developing countries. Europe’s crisis must be fixed because it is becoming a serious drain on developing countries. But it’s not good enough for the G20 to have fought over growth versus austerity in Europe. Leaders failed to keep the world’s poorest in their sights, despite the fact that more than half these people live in G20 countries.”
Food security was supposed to be a priority for this summit, but the G20 failed to come up with a plan to secure food for the 1 billion people worldwide who go hungry every day. This is despite a severe food crisis facing more than 18 million in the Sahel.
Biofuels - a key driver of food price volatility and food insecurity globally – were ignored despite calls from multiple international agencies to scrap production targets and subsidies. There was no mention of small-scale farmers as central to food productivity and security, and no plan to support them even though there are 200 million small family farms in G20 countries.
Financing for development
Leaders have shown no interest in sourcing finance for poverty eradication and climate change adaptation in developing countries, despite strong options available to them, including taxing shipping emissions and backing a financial transactions tax.
Despite major falls in donors’ aid to developing countries, commitments to stick to aid targets are conspicuously absent from the G20 communique.
A bright spot in Los Cabos has been commitments on tax, as leaders have encouraged all countries - including tax havens - to adopt a multilateral convention which forces them to share fiscal information. This could plug the leak of hundreds of millions of dollars that drain out of poor countries into tax havens every year. The litmus test for this commitment will be whether countries implement this plan.
Zarco said: “This collective failure of political will is shocking, and must be dealt with in the last months of Mexico’s G20 Presidency. Poor people and poor countries deserve nothing less.”
Notes to editors
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Read the report: Out of the Bunker – Time for a fair deal on shipping emissions
Oxfam brief on the social impact of biofuels policies