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Power abuse driving poverty in Afghanistan: UN

Apr 01, 2010

In a 26-page report the United Nations has claimed that majority of Afghans are living in poverty inspite of aid that poured into the country in the last eight years. Widespread corruption that limits access to services for a large proportion of the population needs to be tackled urgently.

Widespread corruption in Afghanistan is contributing to increased poverty and a serious neglect of human rights in the country, a UN report says.

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It says the majority of Afghans live in poverty despite the fact that some $35bn (£23bn) of aid was poured into the country between 2002 and 2009.

It says the world community is focusing too much on short-term security and too little on long-term development.

The report was prepared by the office of the UN human rights commissioner.

The Afghan government has not commented on the findings of the document, which was released in Geneva.

'Disillusioned'

"The [Afghan] government is often unable to deliver basic services, such as security, food or shelter," the 26-page UN report says.

It stresses that "widespread corruption further limits access to services for a large proportion of the population", blaming Afghan officials of advancing their own interests at the expense of the general public.

It notes that Afghanistan still has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world and the third highest rate of child mortality.

"Only 23% of the population have access to safe drinking water and only 24% above the age of 15 can read and write," said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the office of the UN human rights commissioner.

"And basically the main conclusion is that the abuse of power is the key driver of poverty in Afghanistan, vested interests frequently shape the public agenda whether in relations to law, policy or the allocation of resources," Colville said.

The document says abusive power structures should be tackled as a matter of urgency.

It also warns that "a growing number of Afghans are increasingly disillusioned" about prospects for a better future in the conflict-torn country.

Source : BBC News
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