UN chief urges nations to step up poverty fight

MADRID (AFP) - United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Thursday urged nations around the world to do more to fulfil the goal of reducing extreme poverty and improve living standards by 2015.

UN member states in 2000 agreed to eight targets known as Millennium Development Goals aimed to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women by 2015.

Halving the number of people who live on less than one dollar a day by 2015 is one of the goals that was set in 2000.

"I am making an appeal that we speed up the actions which we must take," the UN chief said at the end of a meeting of UN agencies in Madrid.

"We must carry out the promises we have made, which we made to families around the world," he added.

While certain countries achieved the goals set down, many - particularly in the most needy areas such as sub-Saharan Africa - have made little progress.

Around 870 million people around the world suffer from hunger, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, former Brazilian minister for food security Graziano da Silva, told the gathering.

"Despite the efforts which we have made, the numbers are not very encouraging," he said.

Aid programmes that target women hold the key to eradicating hunger and poverty, the deputy director of the UN World Food Programme, Mr Amir Abdulla, said.

"Women are the secret weapon against hunger, they are the ultimate force multiplier to fight against malnutrition. When women have food, children eat. When they are helped to grow food, communities eat," he said.

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