Three million more people are projected to be in extreme poverty in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) due to the COVID-19 crisis, said the World Bank (WB).
In its recent report on poverty and shared prosperity, published as part of the WB and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings, the WB said that for the first time since 1988, when it started tracking extreme poverty across the globe, the rate of poverty has increased significantly.
In 2020, 88 million to 115 million people are pushed into extreme poverty, bringing the total to 729 million, according to the report.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19, MENA was the only region in the world where extreme poverty was increasing, due to conflicts in Yemen, Libya and Syria, in addition to the economic downturn in Lebanon in the wake of the Beirut Port blast. The pandemic made the situation worse, according to the report.
Over half of MENA’s people living in extreme poverty are below 15 years old and unemployment is worse among youth, added the report.
“Countries in the region cannot wait until the end of the pandemic to begin rebuilding, the time to act is now,” Vice President of the WB Ferid Belhaj and regional director for equitable growth, finance, and institutions in MENA at the WB Nadir Mohamed urged in a recent blog based on the findings of the report.