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High Commissioner Türk Warns of Deepening Economic Inequality Amid Global Recovery

June 19, Colombo (LNW): Volker Türk, the current High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, emphasizing the profound impact of economic crises and austerity measures on vulnerable groups, particularly in Sri Lanka. Despite improvements in macro-economic indicators, Türk highlighted a significant rise in poverty rates in Sri Lanka from 13.1 to 25.9 percent between 2021 and 2023, with projections indicating sustained high levels in the near future.

Türk also drew attention to global trends, noting that poorer countries bore the brunt of economic setbacks exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while wealth concentration surged among the richest. Citing Oxfam’s data, he pointed out that the wealth of the world’s five wealthiest billionaires had more than doubled since the decade began, contrasting sharply with widespread impoverishment affecting billions.

“4.8 billion people are poorer today than in 2019,” Türk emphasized, underscoring the widening wealth disparity that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities.

In his remarks, Türk expressed dismay over the failure to fulfill the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda, particularly regarding equitable economic recovery and inclusive development. He highlighted the stark reality that billions around the world live in countries where governments prioritize debt servicing over investments in essential health and education systems.

The session served as a platform for Türk to advocate for renewed global commitments to addressing economic disparities and ensuring human rights are upheld, especially for those most vulnerable to economic downturns and policy decisions.

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