WITH funds equivalent to just 2.9 percent ($35.7 billion) of their combined annual military spending, the Group of Seven (G7) countries could help end world hunger and solve the debt crisis in the Global South, reveals new Oxfam analysis.

Eradicating world hunger in all its forms would require $31.7 billion more from donors, and Oxfam estimates that the G7’s fair share of debt relief efforts for the world’s poorest countries is equivalent to $4 billion, making a total of $35.7 billion.

“Governments are finding their pockets run deep to fund war today, but when it comes to stopping starvation they are suddenly broke”, said Oxfam International’s Head of Inequality Policy Max Lawson.

“We’re talking about a small commitment with the potential for huge impact. Imagine a world where no one goes to bed hungry and wherecountries in the Global South can put money into public schools and hospitals instead of debt interest payments. The G7 not only has the means, but the moral and strategic imperative to make this happen”, said Lawson.

Hunger is rising rapidly in many places, including Somalia, Guatemala, Yemen and Kenya, with devastating consequences. Over 281 million people are now grappling with severe hunger and malnutrition. Gaza is facing one of the most severe hunger crises in the world, caused by Israel’s ongoing onslaught and siege of the enclave. People are already in extreme suffering and dying of starvation and treatable diseases. These deaths will increase at a faster rate unless a ceasefire is forged and full humanitarian access and safe distribution are allowed.

Oxfam’s analysis also shows that despite G7 countries owing low- and middle-income countries $15 trillion in unpaid aid and funding for climate action, they are demanding that Global South pay $291 million a day in debt repayments and interests.

In May, Pope Francis said cancelling the debts of countries unable to repay them is “a matter of justice”, and outlined his vision for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee. Low- and middle-income countries are now spending nearly a third of their budgets on servicing debts – as much as on public education, healthcare and social protection combined.

The recent G7 summit followed Brazil’s historic proposal to tax the super-rich globally under their G20 Presidency. With the inequality gap widening, there has been mounting pressure on world leaders to increase taxes on the richest people and corporations. G7 finance ministers last month pledged to “work constructively with the Brazilian G20 Presidency” and “to increase our efforts aimed at progressive and fair taxation of individuals.”

Oxfam estimates that higher and fairer taxes on millionaires and billionaires in G7 countries could raise over $1 trillion a year. The G7 is home to 1,211 billionaires with a combined wealth of $8 trillion. Their wealth has grown in real terms by 74 pecent over the past decade.

“Families are struggling to get food on the table, our tax systems are making the rich richer, and the solution is glaringly obvious. The G7 needs to commit to global efforts, championed by the Brazilian G20 Presidency, to increase the tax paid by billionaires and the super-rich,” said Lawson.

Oxfam points out that eradicating hunger requires both quality funding and deeper, structural policy and social change.

* Source: Oxfam International