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Even before the coronavirus crisis struck, people in the Middle East and North Africa were protesting against the injustice and inequality wrought by a decade of austerity. The pandemic and the lockdown measures taken by governments have paralysed economies and threaten to tip millions of people into poverty, with women, refugees, migrant workers and those working in the informal economy among the worst affected. A huge increase in inequality is very likely. More austerity following this crisis will mean more uprisings, more inequality, and more conflict.

This paper argues that if another decade of pain is to be averted, governments need to take immediate action to reduce inequality through providing public services to protect ordinary people by taxing the richest and guaranteeing decent work.

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