Monday, October 17, 2005

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Today a world collectively impoverished in the failure of our governments to effectively aid the destitute

Today, October 17, is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. That this Day has been observed since 1993 is telling – it speaks of the urgency to combat poverty for those that live along society's margins - social, economic and political, and it emphasises the role that developed nations are obliged to play in this global struggle.

The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) sees poverty as breeding an environment non-conducive to human rights. We believe that poverty constructs serious obstacles to the enjoyment of basic human rights, and leaves individuals within its grasp without basic human dignity; individuals living in poverty have only limited access to food, water and adequate housing.

The National Insurance Institute of Israel published a report last year which said that 54% of Arab children and 50% of Arab families live under the poverty line in Israel. This is the result of official policy that has brought about cuts to welfare benefits and other forms of social assistance, and only serves to further marginalise the poor – affecting most directly children and the elderly. These policies also exacerbate the divide between rich and poor; so much so that Israel, followed by the US, is currently the developed nation with the most number of people living under the poverty line.

The HRA feels that poverty warrants more urgency than, and should therefore be addressed before, sustainable development issues.

Currently, malnutrition seriously afflicts the Arab populations of Israel, in particular those that live in the Naqab (Negev) and in unrecognised villages. A direct result of malnutrition is the inability to enjoy the basic human rights of health, education and mental and physical growth. Left unresolved, the following generation stands to inherit the present generation's poverty and lack of basic human rights.

UNICEF declared that over 50% of children in the world currently live in poverty. Furthermore:

640 million lack adequate housing
400 million lack access to clean water
140 million children, for various reasons, are not in school

The HRA believes that all this is evidence of the failings of world governments. They have failed in implementing their international commitment to save the poor and children of the world and have failed to comply with their moral commitment to humanity.

This comes at a time when governments spend billions on weapons and hundreds of millions on wars that are immoral, and that to date have only exacerbated death, poverty, hatred, hunger and human rights violations in our world.

The above is a press release issued by the Arab HRA, jointly prepared by Mohammad Zeidan and me.

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