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Inflation has plunged 71 million people into poverty in Ukraine since the war

DUBAI – A staggering 71 million more people around the world suffer as a result of poverty rising food and energy prices that rose in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations Development Program said in a report Thursday.

UNDP estimates that in the first three months after the war, another 51.6 million people fell into poverty, living on $1.90 a day or less. This brought the global total to 9% of the world population at this threshold. Another 20 million people slid to the poverty line of $3.20 a day.

In low-income countries, families spend 42% of their household income on food, but as Western nations moved to sanction Russia, the prices of fuel and staples like wheat, sugar and cooking oil soared. Ukraine’s blocked ports and its inability to export grain to low-income countries further drove up prices and rapidly impoverished millions.

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“The impact on the cost of living is almost unprecedented in a generation… and that’s why it’s so severe,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said when the report was released.

The speed at which so many people experienced poverty exceeded the economic pain felt at the height of the pandemic. UNDP found that 125 million people lived in poverty for about 18 months during the pandemic lockdowns and shutdowns, compared with more than 71 million in just three months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

“It’s happening very quickly,” said George Molina, UNDP chief economist and author of the report.

The countries hardest hit by inflation include Haiti, Argentina, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. In countries like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Yemen, the impact of inflation is even harder on them those who are already at the lowest poverty line.

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The total number of people living in poverty or at risk of poverty is over 5 billion, or almost 70% of the world’s population.

According to another UN report released on Wednesday World hunger has increased in the past year with 2.3 billion people with moderate or great difficulty in eating enough – and that was before the war in Ukraine.

Steiner said the global economy needs to rev up, adding that there is enough prosperity in the world to weather the crisis, “but our ability to act collectively and quickly is an obstacle”.

The UNDP recommends that instead of spending billions on blanket energy subsidies, governments instead target spending at those most affected through targeted cash transfers that can prevent another 52.6 million people from falling into poverty on $5.50 a day .

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To achieve this, UNDP called for an expansion of debt payments that had existed during the pandemic among the world’s richest nations to allow defaulting and indebted developing countries to achieve this.

Steiner said this is not only an act of charity, but also “an act of rational self-interest” to avoid other complex trends such as economic collapse in countries and countries Popular protests are already taking place in communities around the world.

The war in Ukraine has rocked a region known as the breadbasket of the world. Before the war, Russia was the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of crude oil. Russia and Ukraine together accounted for almost a quarter of world wheat exports and more than half of sunflower oil exports.

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https://www.local10.com/news/2022/07/07/inflation-pushed-71m-people-into-poverty-since-ukraine-war/ Inflation has plunged 71 million people into poverty in Ukraine since the war

Sarah Y. Kim

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