UN: Rich must not cut aid to poor to balance budget
By Lesley Wroughton and Helen Popper
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pressed debt-ridden donor countries on Monday not to cut aid to the poor despite their budgetary woes.
"We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor," Ban told 140 leaders at the start of a three-day summit to review progress in meeting U.N. poverty goals by 2015.
During their speeches, leaders pledged to step up efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- agreed 10 years ago. But, as expected, they offered little in the way of new resources to help the world's poorest countries.
The United Nations agrees the world will meet the goals to halve global poverty and hunger by 2015 but is behind on other goals which cover improving child education, child mortality and maternal health; combating diseases including AIDS, and promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability.
Rising incomes in emerging economic powers like China is the main reason for progress in tackling poverty there, while population growth has set back efforts in Africa and India.
The World Bank said it would increase spending on education by $750 million over the next five years.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose government cut development aid in the face of a fiscal crisis and high unemployment, said countries were grappling with difficult decisions as they try to revive economic growth.
He urged the world to consider other ways to fund programs that tackle poverty, hunger and climate changes. Continued...