The worst is yet to come: Another 176 mn people worldwide could fall into poverty after pandemic, UN warns

The economic downturn resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented in peacetime since the Great Depression of the 1930s, UN poverty expert Olivier De Schutter has said.

According to a UN statement released on Friday, De Schutter said the measures taken by governments to protect people so far have been insufficient. He has called on world leaders to take more decisive steps to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities.

“The social safety nets put into place are full of holes,” said De Schutter, a Belgian legal scholar appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“These current measures are generally short-term, the funding is insufficient, and many people will inevitably fall between the cracks,” he added.

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De Schutter warned that 176 million additional people worldwide could fall into poverty, with $3.20 per day being used as the poverty baseline.

Even though governments have pledged social schemes to help, the world’s poorest people are often excluded because they don’t have the digital literacy or internet access, he said.

In some cases, government programs are now running out, the expert added. “Families in poverty have by now used up whatever reserves they had and sold their assets. The worst impacts of the crisis on poverty are still to come.”

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