Friday, December 05, 2008

UK minister accuses UN of being unfit to lead poverty fight

A British minister attacked the United Nations yesterday. Gareth Thomas says the UN is not fit to lead the world's fight against poverty. Gareth made the attack after a visit to UN operations in Tanzania and Kenya. Britain gives over 1 billion dollars to the UN annually.

Reuters recorded Gareth's remarks.

"Reform is urgent. Presently the U.N. is not fit for purpose to lead the world's response to eradicating poverty and tackling the climate crisis," International Development Minister Gareth Thomas told U.N. and government officials in Kenya.

Thomas, speaking at the end of a fact-finding mission to assess the U.N.'s work in Africa, called for reform in areas such as the United Nations' leadership, humanitarian assistance and performance.

His demand that the United Nations meet tough performance targets comes as the U.N. and aid partners voice fears that countries will cut back on aid commitments as the global financial crisis puts their budgets under pressure.

The United Nations asked for a record $7 billion last month to help 30 million people recover from disasters and conflict in the coming year, the largest appeal in its history.

Britain is setting performance targets for the U.N., focusing on health, help for new mothers and their babies and tackling HIV and AIDS, Thomas said, according to a statement released by his department in London.

British targets include 85 percent of births to be attended by skilled health personnel by 2011 and ensuring the World Health Organisation helps all affected countries tackle malaria by 2013.

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