By Baher Kamal
ROME, May 22 2023 (IPS)
Two shocking findings have just been revealed: the G7 countries owe low- and middle-income countries a huge 13.3 trillion USD in unpaid aid and funding for climate action, at a time when one billion people now face cholera risk, precisely because of the staggering reduction and even non-payment of committed assistance.
Such an inhuman reality also reveals that the G7 (Group of the seven wealthiest countries), who represent just 10% of the world’s population, continue to demand the Global South to pay 232 million USD –a day– in debt repayments through 2028, on 17 May 2023 revealed a new analysis from Oxfam ahead of the G7.
The Group of Seven (G7) countries owe low- and middle-income countries a huge 13.3 trillion in unpaid aid and funding for climate action, according to an Oxfam new analysis launched ahead of the G7 (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, and Canada) Summit in Hiroshima, Japan (May 19- 21, 2023)
This is the amount of interest and debt repayment that the mid and low-income nations –including the 46 Least Developed Countries (LDC5)– have to continue transferring -every single day– for the total 10 trillion USD they have been forced to borrow from rich states, private banks and financial corporations.
The Group of Seven (G7) countries owe low- and middle-income countries a huge 13.3 trillion in unpaid aid and funding for climate action, according to an Oxfam new analysis launched ahead of the G7 (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, and Canada) Summit in Hiroshima, Japan (May 19- 21, 2023).
“This money could otherwise be spent on healthcare, education, gender equality and social protection, as well as addressing the impacts of climate change,” adds this global movement of people fighting inequality, working in 70 countries, with thousands of partners and allies.
Meanwhile, cholera threatens one billion humans
Such a huge G7 country’s debt to the Global South in their unmet aid pledges would be vitally needed to save the lives of up to one billion people in 43 countries now facing cholera risk amid a ‘bleak’ outlook, as reported by World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) on 19 May 2023.
In their new alert, the two specialised organisations said that more countries now face outbreaks, increasing numbers of cases are being reported and the outcome for patients is worse than 10 years ago.
After years of steady decline, cholera is making a “devastating comeback and targeting the world’s most vulnerable communities.”
Killing the poor in plain sight
“The pandemic is killing the poor right in front of us,” said Jérôme Pfaffmann Zambruni, Head of UNICEF’s Public Health Emergency unit.
Echoing the bleak outlook, WHO data indicates that by May 2022, 15 countries had reported cases, but by mid-May this year 2023 “we already have 24 countries reporting and we anticipate more with the seasonal shift in cholera cases,” said Henry Gray, WHO’s Incident Manager for the global cholera response.
Cholera cases spiking
“Despite advances in the control of the disease made in the previous decades we risk going backwards.”
The UN health agency estimates that one billion people in 43 countries are at risk of cholera with children under five particularly vulnerable.
“Cholera’s extraordinarily high mortality ratio is also alarming.”
Southeastern Africa is particularly badly affected, with infections spreading in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to the United Nations.
A deadly combination of climate change, underinvestment in water, sanitation and hygiene services – and in some cases armed conflict – has led to the spread of the disease, said the two UN agencies.
Despite these and so many other threats facing the most vulnerable countries, the wealthy G7 states continue to drastically cut their committed aid, while causing the largest impacts of their highly lucrative addiction to fossil fuels, one of the main causes of the current climate emergency.
Wealth “built on colonialism and slavery”
“Wealthy G7 countries like to cast themselves as saviours but what they are is operating a deadly double standard —they play by one set of rules while their former colonies are forced to play by another,” said Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar.
“It’s the rich world that owes the Global South. The aid they promised decades ago but never gave. The huge costs of climate damage caused by their reckless burning of fossil fuels. The immense wealth built on colonialism and slavery.”
In fact, already in 2020, the G7 countries accounted for more than 50% of global net wealth, estimated at over 200 trillion USD.
“Each and every day, the Global South pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the G7 and their rich bankers. This has to stop. It’s time to call the G7’s hypocrisy for what it is: an attempt to dodge responsibility and maintain the neo-colonial status quo,” said Behar.
“This money could have been transformational,” said Behar. “It could have paid for children to go to school, hospitals and life-saving medicines, improving access to water, better roads, agriculture and food security, and so much more. The G7 must pay its due.”
Billions of poor… and hungry
The G7 leaders are meeting at a moment where billions of workers face real-term pay cuts and impossible rises in the prices of basics like food. Global hunger has risen for a fifth consecutive year, while extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years, reports OXFAM.
Despite a commitment last month from the G7 to phase out fossil fuels faster, Germany is now pushing for G7 leaders to endorse public investment in gas, the human solidarity movement further explains.
G7 owes the poor $9 trillion for their devastation
“It has been estimated that the G7 owes low- and middle-income countries $8.7 trillion for the devastating losses and damages their excessive carbon emissions have caused, especially in the Global South.”
G7 governments are also collectively failing to meet a long-standing promise by rich countries to provide $100 billion per year from 2020 to 2025 to help poorer countries cope with climate change, it adds.
Meanwhile, “In 1970, rich countries agreed to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national income in aid. Since then, G7 countries have left unpaid a total of $4.49 trillion to the world’s poorest countries —more than half of what was promised.”
Will this 10% of the world’s population ever meet its pledges to the 90% of all humans on Earth? What do you think?