OECD: Russia war, virus and climate hurting world’s poorest

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. pressure / ˈprɛʃ ər / (n.) – the feeling of fear or worry because of a difficult situation that one needs to deal with

    Young adults face many pressures in their careers and personal lives.

  2. dire / daɪər / (adj.) – very serious and needing immediate action

    The victims of the typhoon are in dire need of help.

  3. strait / streɪt / (n.) – a difficult situation

    The company is in desperate straits after the pandemic left it bankrupt.

  4. uncertainty / ʌnˈsɜr tn ti / (n.) – the feeling of being doubtful about something

    There’s growing uncertainty among the people with the rising prices of goods and the high unemployment rate.

  5. brunt / brʌnt / (n.) – the main force or effect of something harmful or dangerous

    The poor took the brunt of the pandemic’s effects.


Read the text below.

Russia’s war against Ukraine, the lingering coronavirus pandemic and the damage of climate change are putting intense pressure on the world’s poorest, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned.

The Paris-based OECD reported that 60 states, territories and locations fell last year into the category of “fragile contexts” — meaning they were exposed to economic, environmental, social and political risks that they didn’t have the capacity to absorb. And that was before Russia invaded Ukraine and intensified their burdens.

The report designated the most places in such dire straits since the OECD began issuing its States of Fragility report in 2015. The 60 account for 24% of the world’s population, 73% of those living in extreme poverty, 80% of those who died in conflicts and the vast majority of the world’s “hunger hotspots.” And they are home to 95% of the record 274 million people the United Nations says need humanitarian assistance.

“We are in an era defined by multiple crises, shocks and uncertainty,” the OECD said.

Only one in three people in fragile places have received COVID vaccines, compared with three of four in the relatively wealthy 38 OECD countries.

The organization noted that the 60 fragile states account for just 4% of global emissions but “are feeling the brunt of climate-related natural disasters.”

The OECD said the five most fragile countries last year were Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen and the Central African Republic. And three countries — Benin, Timor-Leste and Turkmenistan — were newly added to the list of fragile states last year; none were removed.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How does your country extend humanitarian assistance to people living in extreme poverty? Discuss.
  • According to the article, the 60 fragile states only account for 4% of global emissions, but they’re greatly affected by natural disasters. What do you think other countries can do to help them? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think is the biggest humanitarian issue right now (ex. poverty, war)? Discuss.
  • Would you like to take part in humanitarian programs? What kind of help are you willing to extend to those in need? Discuss.