Subject: AAP: Fight world poverty to end terrorism, says UN rep


July 8, 2003, Tuesday

Fight world poverty to end terrorism, says UN rep

By Kim Arlington

SYDNEY, July 8

Australia may be near the top of the table of the world's most developed countries, but many of our nearest neighbours are languishing near the bottom of the list, a new report shows.

The table, released today in the 2003 United Nations Human Development Report, measures life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income in 175 countries.

Australia has jumped one spot since last year to fourth place in the table behind Norway, Iceland and Sweden.

But it is the countries nearer the bottom of the table that are of most concern to the UN.

Among them is Australia's closest neighbour Indonesia (112 on the list), the Solomon Islands (123) and Papua New Guinea (132).

Newly-independent East Timor was not mentioned, but with 41 per cent of its citizens surviving on less than 55 cents a day, a life expectancy of 57 years and a 43 per cent literacy rate, it is among the world's 20 least developed nations.

East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, today called for greater international efforts to end poverty and inequality.

UN member nations have committed to achieving eight Millennium Development goals - including ending extreme poverty and hunger, realising universal primary education and reducing child mortality - by 2015.

But Mr Horta, in Sydney for today's UN report launch and to open the East Timorese consulate tomorrow, said "shared responsibility" was needed to achieve these goals.

The whole international community, as well as the private sector, had to work with the UN and its agencies, he said.

"Major private sector corporations are realising or accepting their own responsibility in sharing the burden of addressing the issues of social injustice (and) economic disparity in the world," he said.

He added unfair trade agreements were "one of the greatest obstacles to development and progress in the developing countries" - especially ones like East Timor, where 70 per cent of the workforce is employed in agriculture.

UN special representative in East Timor, Sukehiro Hasegawa, said the world "is facing an acute development crisis" and developed nations had to provide more assistance to poorer countries.

Aid for development should not be sacrificed to the war against terror, Mr Hasegawa said. "There is no competition between the fight against terrorism and the eradication of poverty and hunger," he said.

"Reducing poverty contributes to a safer world.

"It would be almost impossible to prevent the birth and the growth of new terrorists unless we can create a global society that provides disadvantaged groups of people ... with access to education, health and other basic requirements for our human development."

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