Conflicts at the expense of the poor

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

War and arms trafficking may have made the pockets of some businesses and individuals fat, but millions have plunged into poverty. Social scientists and economists argue that once a country experiences a conflict, it faces a reversal in economic development because when a war or armed conflict begins, its consequences go well beyond human losses.

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

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 $ 14.96 trillion – in purchasing power parity (PPP). This figure corresponds to 11.6% of world GDP.

Today around one and a half billion people live under threat of violence in almost 50 conflict areas worldwide. These countries spend up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.

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

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Trends Report, more than 82.4 million people had fled war or persecution by the end of 2020 (this was before the military coup in Myanmar and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan). The report also confirms that only 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 appalling conditions, often struggling to meet basic needs such as health, education, food, shelter, water and sanitation, to name a few. Today, according to the World Bank, about 9.2% of the world’s population – about 689 million people – live in extreme poverty on less than $ 1.90 a day.

Among 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 clearly missed.

New research estimates that the number of people living in extreme poverty will rise to around 750 million by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, projections by the World Bank, the 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 violence.

Today only a handful of economically and politically powerful global elites determine the rules of the world. In the past few years these mighty nations have been preaching “world peace,” but the question remains: are they really practicing what they preach?

Take the United States, for example, the world’s leading economic power. Since its birth on July 4, 1776, the country has been at war for 93% of its existence. While they try to be noble by claiming to have entered wars because they “fight for justice,” “for democracy,” or “against terrorism and dictatorship,” the whole world knows what the real motive of these wars and Is conflict and who are the beneficiaries of these wars.

According to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), arms sales of the world’s 25 largest arms manufacturers and military service companies (arms companies) totaled $ 361 billion in 2019. That year, the five largest defense companies were all based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. These five companies combined had annual arms sales of $ 166 billion. A total of 12 US companies appear in the top 25 of 2019, accounting for 61% of the combined arms sales of the top 25. These companies have benefited tremendously from the growth in global military spending. SIPRI found that global military spending in 2020 was $ 1.981 trillion.

The five largest donors 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 $ 778 billion), Russia ($ 61.7 billion, 3.1%) and the United Kingdom ($ 59.2 billion, 3%).

In 2019, the military spending of the 27 EU member states totaled 186 billion euros. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States embarked on an international war on terrorism.

A report by Brown University’s Costs of War project found that 20 years of war after the 11th civilians, journalists and humanitarian workers – died as a direct result of the war.

The report also confirms that the US wars after September 11 forcibly displaced at least 38 million people in and out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. This number exceeds the total displaced persons in any war since 1900 except World War II.

Given the current circumstances of the world, it doesn’t seem like a very nice place right now; there is too much hatred, conflict, war, double standards and hypocrisy. It is unfortunate that while trillions of dollars are being spent killing people, much less money is being spent keeping people alive.

The US spent $ 2.26 trillion on its war in Afghanistan. Spending this type of money in every country should have lifted most of the people out of poverty, but unfortunately in 2020 47.3% of the Afghan population were still living below the national poverty line.

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


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