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.
Leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week should seriously consider how the economic crisis can be a catalyst for new models of growth and a new way of doing business, said international agency Oxfam today.
Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, who is attending the summit said:
“We cannot simply carry on with business as usual. The current crisis affects us all. Some people at this meeting have lost billions, but for many of the people with whom we work financial insecurity is a fact of life. And they now face further challenges as a result of the downturn.
“In the last recession, overseas aid fell by 25%, and in 1972/3 it was down by 15%. This must not happen again – especially when rich countries are already breaking promises to increase aid, and countries need more, not less, help to cope with the impact of volatile food and fuel prices, and the effects of climate change.
“The direct impacts of the downturn are already being felt in poor countries. In Vietnam, where foreign direct investment accounts for over a fifth of total investment, there is a concern that vital projects may be postponed or cancelled.
“Remittances from overseas workers are also set to fall. This will have a massive impact in some countries, such as Bangladesh, where one family in every village is dependent on them to survive.
“And the collapse in commodity prices will affect poor countries, both directly, from falling sales, and indirectly through increased unemployment. For example, in the DRC, at least 200,000 jobs have been lost following a collapse in mineral prices.”
“The leaders meeting in Davos this week can make a difference to all this. Politicians must reiterate promises to increase aid – and then keep them. Private sector leaders must strive to minimize the impact on poor people of redundancies and falling demand. And banks should behave more responsibly and make sure money is available for poor countries to invest in vital infrastructure and pursue economic development.
“As importantly, a new dialogue should begin this week, which focuses on how to make growth more sustainable, and economic governance more inclusive. There is an opportunity at the heart of this crisis: to realign power relations and opportunities in a way that ensures our future is not blighted by growing inequality.
“Specifically, investors should be looking at the double opportunity offered by investment in green technology – help the environment and boost the economy at the same time.”