Source: unic.org
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With just five years remaining until the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today sounded the alarm that the world's least developed countries (LDCs) continued to be mired in poverty.

Although school enrolment has improved and strides have been made in reducing child mortality and expanding access to clean water in the LDCs, they remain the group facing the most severe challenging in realizing the eight MDGs, Mr. Ban underlined today.

Scores of world leaders are gathering in New York for a three-day General Assembly gathering, which started yesterday, to assess progress made so far in reaching the Goals.

“The LDCs represent the poorest and most vulnerable segment of humanity,” the Secretary-General said at a side event this morning focusing on the MDGs in these countries.

“They remain at the epicentre of the developmental emergency,” he added.

Countries are classified as LDCs if they meet three criteria: a low income; human capital status based on education, nutrition, health and literacy indicators; and economic vulnerability.

Currently, more than half of the 800 million in the 49 LDCs live below the poverty line, while only six of them have poverty rates under 30 per cent.

The LDCs are also made less competitive by their inadequate transport infrastructure and uneven power supplies.

“It is increasingly clear that economic infrastructure and productive capacity-building hold the key to generating decent jobs, especially for the large youth populations of these countries,” Mr. Ban underlined.

He noted that the LDCs have made efforts to improve economic management and political governance, stressing that the international community must continue to provide support.

“This is a moral commitment, first and foremost – a test of global solidarity,” the Secretary-General said.

Also speaking at today's event was Assembly President Joseph Deiss, who pointed to three crises – economic, food and energy – that have severely impacted the LDCs.

“We have to focus on the specific needs and constraints of the Least Developed Countries if we want to alleviate suffering and raise their population out of poverty,” he emphasized.

Although progress made in achieving the MDGs is measured globally, the targets must be realized in every country, Mr. Deiss said.

At the start of the high-level MDG meeting yesterday, the Secretary-General urged world leaders to provide the necessary investment, aid and political will to end extreme poverty.

“There is no global project more worthwhile,” he said. “Let us send a strong message of hope. Let us keep the promise.”

Mr. Ban called on wealthy countries not to pull back from their previous commitments on official development assistance to poorer nations, which he described as “a lifeline of billions, for billions.”