Commenting on today’s release of details of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Development Response Plans, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:
“Oxfam has long been warning of the devastating combined impacts of climate change and the coronavirus crisis across the region and note that this has been emphasised more strongly in the regional Pacific Development Response Plan released today.
“It is now important that we align our own domestic recovery with one that does not exacerbate the climate crisis for our Pacific neighbours, whose existence depends on Australia taking stronger action to end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in the shift to renewables.
“The impacts of COVID-19 are already affecting millions of women and girls. The plans released today also indicate there will be a strong focus on interventions that support women both economically and socially.
“This focus is welcomed and demonstrates that Australian aid will continue to be used to address the inequalities that often mean women are the first and most severely affected by crisis.
“The acknowledgement that these plans will need to be flexible is also sensible, as even in the short-term the impacts of this crisis continue to unfold.
“While it is pleasing to see the release of the Development Response Plans, they are just a blueprint and require further detail of how the extra $305 million committed in the Federal Budget to the Pacific and Timor-Leste will be invested.
“In addition to these plans, the Federal Government must look outside our region and commit to supporting countries already facing protracted crisis – such as the humanitarian disaster faced in war-torn Yemen – and those who are most vulnerable to being hardest hit by the compounding impact of the pandemic.
“The Government must go beyond these two-year plans and acknowledge that the long-term impacts of this unprecedented crisis will last years, if not decades. This demands a permanent increase in our ever-shrinking aid budget.
“Oxfam has estimated an additional half a billion people could be pushed into poverty by the impacts of this pandemic, including almost 240 million people in East Asia and the Pacific, and close to 130 million people in South Asia.”