140m Arabs live in poverty, says UN report
Cairo, December 21, 2009
Nearly 140 million Arabs live below the poverty line, according to a report published by the United Nations Development Programme and Arab League.
The report stressed “there has been no decrease in the rates of poverty in the Arab region over the past 20 years,” with some countries actually showing an increase.
The document “Development Challenges for the Arab Region: A Human Development Approach” also indicated youth unemployment was “the highest in the world” in Arab countries, according to a report in our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News.
Oil-rich Arab states should devote more money to creating jobs and boosting food security among their poorer Arab neighbours to help the region meet development goals by 2015, the report said.
Though rich in labour and fertile land, much of the Arab world is plagued by malnutrition, joblessness and a big gap between rich and poor, said the report.
Without more help from Gulf countries, nations such as Yemen, Sudan and Somalia risk missing goals set for the UN Millennium Campaign, which aims to halve extreme poverty and boost life expectancy by 2015, it said.
'The development paralysis experienced by least developed countries (LDCs) in the Arab region can be turned around,' it added. 'However, such a transformation requires a developmental compact between the Arab LDCs and their more fortunate brothers.' In most Arab countries more than half of the young population is unemployed, making the region's jobless rates among the young the highest in the world, it said, adding the region needs to create 51 million jobs by 2020 merely to keep unemployment from rising above its current levels.
The two-volume report called on Gulf countries to employ more migrant workers from neighbouring states such as Yemen and invest more in sectors that create jobs in the region.
In spite of progress towards self-sufficiency in grain production in Sudan and Syria, malnutrition is rampant among Arab states and has seen little improvement since 1990, the report said.