Annan says aid pledges must be kept

22nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Former UN chief Kofi Annan on Wednesday criticised countries that promise aid but fail to deliver, as world leaders tried to breathe new life into the battle against poverty at a UN summit.

Annan, who headed the United Nations in 2000 when its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set, also warned of increased social unrest if the gulf between rich and poor was not narrowed.

"Governments go public with amounts that they are giving, they get lots of publicity in the press, but the money never really comes through," he told the BBC World Service in an interview.

"The poor don't see that money."

His remarks heaped fresh pressure on leaders at the UN summit in New York who are trying to find ways to finance and give new political impetus to the eight development goals, which were knocked off course by the financial crisis.

European leaders pledged one billion euros (1.3 billion dollars) Monday on the first day of the three-day summit.

Annan, a Ghanaian who was UN secretary general from 1997 to 2006, further warned that extreme wealth and extreme poverty could not exist in close proximity without stirring up trouble.

"We cannot expect to live in a world where some people have immense wealth and you have extreme poverty living side by side and not expect some sort of a reaction," said Annan.

He noted there were already signs of friction in Europe, where some countries are trying to push through reforms to generous welfare systems amid fears their debts are getting out of control.

"We are beginning to see a bit of that even here around Europe, with the social upheavals, with people in the streets demanding their rights," he said.

"This is obviously something that has happened in the past but is beginning to happen as things get tighter and tighter economically for them."

The UN has estimated that at least 120 billion dollars will need to be raised to have any hope of reaching the MDGs, which most experts now predict will not be met by the 2015 target date.

The goals include cutting extreme poverty by half, reducing by two-thirds the number of children who die before the age of five and spreading technological progress.

© 2010 AFP

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