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UN chief: Achieving anti-poverty goals at risk

Friday, September 21, 2012    

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned yesterday that the first decline in international aid to developing countries in years is jeopardising the UN goal of reducing poverty by 2015 in many countries.

Ban spoke at a news conference launching a new report on gaps in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, known as MDGs.

The report said official development assistance in 2011 fell to US$133 billion, less than half the US$300 billion needed annually to meet the goals set by world leaders in 2000.

The secretary-general urged donor nations to step up their international aid and fill the US$167 billion gap.

“It is clear that we need a stronger global partnership to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 deadline,” he said. “Do not place the burden of fiscal austerity on the backs of the poor — either in your own countries or abroad.”

The report said 16 key donors reduced their aid in 2011, mainly in response to the global economic crisis. The economic downturn also led governments to adopt protectionist trade policies that hurt developing nations, the report said.

The UN chief said essential medicines are much too expensive and only half of public health facilities in developing countries are able to provide them. He said Internet access is also prohibitively expensive for the poor, especially in Africa.

The Millennium Development Goals include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring that every child has a primary school education, halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, reducing by half the number of people without access to clean water and basic sanitation, cutting child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters.

Despite weakening international support, Ban said some goals have already been achieved.

“Several important global targets — such as on poverty, water, slums, and on parity between girls and boys in primary education — have been met,” Ban said.

But the report warned that the US$167-billion gap could worsen as a result of the delayed impact from the economic crisis on donor country budgets between 2013 and 2015.

At the 2005 summit of the Group of Eight major industrialised powers, donor countries made commitments to increase aid to Africa by US$25 billion a year by 2010 but that target was not met.

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