Conflict at the expense of the poor

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POVERTY has many roots, and it has many causes. but among these causes, war and arms sales are one of the greatest obstacles to development and poverty reduction.

War and the arms trade may have fattened the pockets of some businesses and individuals, but millions of people have been plunged into poverty. Sociologists and economists argue that once a country experiences conflict, it faces a reversal in its economic development, because when war or armed conflict breaks out, its consequences extend far beyond casualties.

Wars directly destroy homes, hospitals, businesses, schools, infrastructure and other national resources worth billions of dollars, resulting in low or negative economic growth, increasing unemployment which in turn creates poverty and worsens income inequalities.

According to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the estimated economic cost of armed conflict, war and violence to the global economy in 2020 was US $ 14.960 billion – in terms of power parity. purchase (PPA). This figure is equivalent to 11.6% of global GDP.

Today, in nearly 50 conflict zones around the world, around 1.5 billion people live under the threat of violence. These countries spend up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.

Syria, with its ongoing civil war, suffered the greatest economic impact with nearly 60% of its GDP lost due to conflict in 2019, followed by Afghanistan (50%) and South Sudan (46% ). From Syria to Yemen, from Haiti to Mali, from South Sudan to Venezuela, from Afghanistan to Myanmar – political crises, wars and armed conflicts have forced millions of people to flee their homes.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Trends Report, by the end of 2020, more than 82.4 million people had fled war or persecution (before the military coup in Myanmar and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan). The report also confirms that just five countries account for more than two-thirds of all refugees: Syria (6.8 million), Venezuela (5.4 million), Afghanistan (2.8 million), South Sudan (2.2 million) and Myanmar (1.1 million).

These displaced people are forced to seek safety in neighboring countries, where they live in makeshift camps in horrific conditions, often struggling to meet basic needs such as health, education, food, shelter, etc. water and sanitation, to name a few. Today, about 9.2% of the world’s population – about 689 million people – live in extreme poverty on less than US $ 1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ending extreme poverty by 2030 is part of a comprehensive global agenda. But these escalating wars, armed conflicts and violence suggest that the global goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 will be largely missed.

New research estimates that the number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to reach around 750 million by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, projections from the World Bank, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) and others estimate that by 2030, 50-64% of the world’s poor will live in countries affected by fragility, conflict and high levels of violence.

Today, only a handful of economically and politically powerful global elites set the world’s rules. For several years these powerful nations have been preaching “world peace”, but the question remains: are they really practicing what they preach?

Take, for example, the United States, the world’s largest economic power. Since its birth on July 4, 1776, the country has been at war for 93% of its existence. As they try to be noble by claiming that they have gone to war because they are “fighting for justice”, “for democracy” or “fighting terrorism and dictatorship”, the whole world knows what the real motive behind these wars and conflicts is. , and who are the beneficiaries of these wars.

According to new data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), arms sales by the 25 largest arms production and military service companies (armaments companies) totaled 361 billion US dollars in 2019. That year, the five largest arms companies were all based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. These five companies together recorded $ 166 billion in annual arms sales. A total of 12 U.S. companies are in the top 25 for 2019, accounting for 61% of the top 25 combined arms sales. These companies have benefited enormously from the growth in global military spending. SIPRI noted that global military spending in 2020 amounted to US $ 1,981 billion.

The top five spenders in 2020, which together accounted for 62% of global military spending, were the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom, according to SIPRI. With an estimated military budget of US $ 778 billion, the United States remained the biggest spender in the world in 2020, accounting for 39% of global military spending, followed by China (US $ 252 billion, 13%), India (US $ 72.9 billion, 3.7%), Russia (US $ 61.7 billion, 3.1%) and the United Kingdom (US $ 59.2 billion, 3% ).

In 2019, the combined military spending of the 27 EU Member States amounted to € 186 billion. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States launched an international war on terrorism.

A report from Brown University’s “Costs of War” project found that 20 years of post-9/11 wars cost the United States an estimated US $ 8 trillion and more than 929,000 people – including US servicemen. Allied fighters, opposition fighters, civilians, journalists and aid workers – have died as a direct result of the war.

The report also confirms that the US wars after 9/11 forcibly displaced at least 38 million people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. This number exceeds the total population displaced by every war since 1900, with the exception of World War II.

Considering the current circumstances of the world, it doesn’t seem like a very pleasant place at the moment; there is too much hatred, conflict, war, double standards and hypocrisy. It is unfortunate that while billions of dollars are spent killing people, there is much less money spent on keeping people alive.

The United States spent US $ 2.26 trillion on its war in Afghanistan. Spending that kind of money in any country should have lifted most people out of poverty, but sadly, in 2020, 47.3% of the Afghan population was still living below the national poverty line.

Recall that world leaders once pledged to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030, and we are only nine years away from that deadline. Interestingly, the SIPRI report states that military spending amounts to 2.3% of global gross domestic product – and 10% of that money would be enough to fund the global goals agreed by the United Nations to end poverty and to hunger by 2030. – The Statesman / Asian News Network


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