Commenting on the Federal Government’s pledge of an additional $500 million for a COVID-19 vaccine for the Pacific and South East Asia, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:
“Oxfam strongly welcomes the commitment of an extra $500 million over three years to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine to our neighbours in the Pacific and South East Asia.
“This commitment to neighbouring communities in our region, which are struggling with the impacts of the global pandemic, is encouraging recognition by the Federal Government that the coronavirus crisis is not over for Australians until it is over for everyone.
“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 in South Asia.
“Our support is critical to the recovery effort of countries in our region, which otherwise risk losing development gains and facing deepening poverty and inequality.
“Oxfam is also heartened that this funding is in addition to Australia’s international development assistance budget, which has declined over the past six years.
“We look forward to detailed plans on how this additional funding will be allocated.
“We also implore the Government to reinforce its commitment to humanitarian principles and demonstrate urgently required commitment beyond the region.
“As one of the world’s wealthiest nations, we cannot ignore those who are most vulnerable to the compounding impact of this pandemic on top of long-term humanitarian crisis – people in countries such as war-torn Yemen, which is facing record levels of malnutrition and the UN has warned risk losing an entire generation to hunger.”