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Governments urged to maintain anti-poverty impetus

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)
Media Release

Governments urged to maintain anti-poverty impetus

Wellington, 16 October 2008. – The world financial crisis could put at risk progress towards reaching the UN’s anti-poverty targets, leaving children particularly vulnerable says UNICEF NZ.

Tomorrows’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a timely reminder of the need to keep working towards the UN Millennium Development Goals despite tough economic times.

UNICEF NZ Executive Director Dennis McKinlay says that the financial crisis comes on top of higher food prices, increased food demand from newly-rich countries, and a switch of land use to bio-fuel production.

“Many developing countries – such as those in the Horn of Africa – have been going through a food crisis which has seen millions of people in need of food aid and other humanitarian assistance.

“In Ethiopia, for example, more than 6 million people are estimated to be in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance, up by 1.8 million since June. Of these, some 84,000 are children who require special therapeutic feeding.

“Our worry is that the financial crisis will be another impediment to shifting the focus away from meeting the anti-poverty targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

The eight MDGs – first agreed to by world leaders and key development institutions in 2000 – set worldwide objectives for reducing extreme poverty and deprivation, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.

The first MDG aims specifically to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. It sets out targets which include halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015 and halving the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.

“The UN’s latest report on the MDGs notes that the overarching goal of ending poverty is achievable, but an unswerving, collective and long-term effort is required.

“As a way to show their support for the MDGs, I’m encouraging New Zealanders to take part in the international “Stand Up and Take Action” campaign being run 17-19 October. Participation could be, for example, by discussing the issues with friends and family, writing a letter to your MP, addressing poverty in a blog, or learning more about the MDGs.

“Last year more than 43 million people all around the world took part as a way of sending a powerful message to governments that they should keep their promises on ending poverty, and meeting and exceeding the MDGs.

“This year the campaign aims to mobilize 67 million people or more than one per cent of the world’s population.

“If one per cent of people living in New Zealand took part, then that would be more than 42,000 voices in favour of the world’s poorest.”

More Information
Campaign information: www.standagainstpoverty.org
Millennium Development Goals information: www.un.org/millenniumgoals

ENDS

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