Bahrain 'is safe nation', says UN report
Manama, August 26, 2009
Bahrain has been ranked as one of the best places in the Arab world to live in terms of human development and security.
It excels in all but two categories of human security - with much more yet to do in terms of threats to the environment and the situation for young people and women, says a United Nations report formally released yesterday.
The country ranks 41st out of 179 countries in the global Human Development Index (HDI).
It ranks well for its performance in combating human trafficking and also for its expenditure on health, says the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Arab Human Development Report 2009, officially launched at UN House, Manama, yesterday.
It is vital that those in authority take notice of the report and that it stimulates debate with leaders across the Arab world, said UN resident co-ordinator and UNDP representative Sayed Aqa.
'This is one of the most important documents of our time as it focuses on this region and the challenges and achievements that we have encountered,' Aqa said at the launch.
'It is prepared, authored and res-earched by Arab intellectuals and policymakers and relates the views, facts and realities of these UN states.
'The report gives Bahrain a very good review, in fact there are only two areas which Bahrain needs to focus - and these are not exactly new - the environment as well as youth and women.
'In the other five areas we are doing as well as or better than most other countries in the region and in many cases better than developed countries in the Western world.'
The ceremony, held under the patronage of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nazar Al Baharna, launched a 263-page dossier - entitled Challenges to the Human Security in the Arab Countries.
It focuses on: People and their insecure environment; the state and its insecure people; the vulnerability of those lost from sight; volatile growth, high unemployment and persisting poverty; hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity; health security challenges; and occupation and military intervention as the seven building blocks of Arab human security.
Bahrain has moved up the global HDI to 41st place from 43rd, when the last report was issued.
In health security challenges, Bahrain ranks third in the region in terms of public health expenditure as a percentage of total government spending - reserving around 10 per cent of its budget for healthcare in 2005/2006, says the new report.
However, this is still a lower figure than the world average; with 18 of the Arab world's 20 evaluated countries spending well below the World Bank's figure of 11 per cent.
'The Arab region falls far short of the health outcomes its income and resources could allow,' the report adds.
'Health care - and women's health in particular - are not prioritised in national budgets, resulting in significant under-funding.'
Bahrain is now rated as 'Very Low' incidence as a country of transit for human trafficking, although it is still rated as 'Medium' incidence for country of destination.
This compares well to Saudi Arabia for example, where human trafficking incidences as a destination are high.
Aqa said Bahrain's moves to combat trafficking meant it would not remain on the list for long.
'It is mentioned that origin is very low so Bahrain is not being targeted by traffickers which is a good sign,' he said.
'And now with the Bahrain government realising that this is a genuine issue and are preparing to address it seriously, things in Bahrain are moving in the right direction.'
The report also highlights the issue of youth unemployment across the Arab world, with the unemployment rate across the young in Arab countries over twice as high as that of the world of large.
However the main issues affect