UNITED NATIONS — A major drop in development aid and growing protectionism have put at risk development goals set by world leaders with a 2015 deadline, the UN said Thursday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed to rich countries hit by economic crisis not to make poor nations bear the brunt of their austerity measures.
Official development assistance for poor countries fell by almost three percent to $133.5 billion in 2011 after hitting a record in 2010, said a UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) task force report.
World leaders in 2000 set the eight Millennium goals -- specific targets to reduce poverty, stop the spread of AIDS and improve education, gender equality, child and maternal health and environmental stability.
The UN says that goals to cut poverty and boost primary education have been met, but the report put the others in doubt because of spending cuts.
To reach the UN target of 0.7 percent of gross national income devoted to aid, the world's richest nations should be spending more than $300 billion.
Out of the 23 main donors in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development main rich nations, 16 reduced aid in 2011, mainly because of spending cuts, said the UN report.
"The largest falls were seen in Greece and Spain as a direct result of the crisis. These were followed by Austria and Belgium, owing to reduced debt forgiveness grants," said the report.
Japan's aid also fell after reaching a record high in 2010.
The report said exports from poor nations had also been hit by protectionist measures imposed since the 2008-2009 financial crisis which has affected about three percent of world trade.
Only Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands still provided aid over and above the target 0.7 percent of gross national income in 2011, said the UN.
"The report paints a troubling picture," UN leader Ban said.
"It is clear that we need a stronger global partnership to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 deadline."
Ban appealed to governments to keep their commitments to help poor nations.
"I repeat my call to the international community: do not place the burden of fiscal austerity on the backs of the poor -- either in your own countries or abroad," he said.
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