As many as 25 million more people in Europe are at risk of falling into poverty trap by the next 12 years if European states push on with austerity measures, international aid agency Oxfam says.

“Europe’s handling of the economic crisis threatens to roll back decades of social rights,” Natalia Alonso, the head of Oxfam’s EU office, said in Brussels on Wednesday.

“Aggressive cuts to social security, health and education, fewer rights for workers and unfair taxation are trapping millions of Europeans in a circle of poverty that could last for generations. It is moral and economic nonsense.

“The only people benefiting from austerity are the richest 10 percent of Europeans who alone have seen their wealth rise.

“Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK — countries that are most aggressively pursuing austerity measures — will soon rank amongst the most unequal in the world if their leaders don’t change course.

“For example, the gap between rich and poor in the UK and Spain could become the same as in South Sudan or Paraguay,” stated Alonso.

He added that the austerity measures could push up to 25 million more Europeans into poverty by 2025.

“This would bring the number of people at risk of poverty in Europe up to 146 million, over a quarter of the population,” the Oxfam warned.

The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in Greece in late 2009 and later on reached Italy, Spain, France , Portugal, Britain and Ireland, is viewed as a threat not only to Europe but also to many of the world’s other developed economies.

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