World’s poorest deserve special attention amid global crises, says Ban

World’s poorest deserve special attention amid global crises, says Ban

At a time of multiple global crises, including those related to finances, food and flu, the poorest and most vulnerable deserve special attention by the international community, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told world leaders gathered at the United Nations today.

“Millions of people around the world are not seeing the green shoots of recovery we are starting to hear about in some places,” he said at a lunch for heads of State and government who are in New York for the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly.

“For them, the crisis is picking up speed. For them, it is not just one crisis but several, hitting them all at once, multiplying the challenges and the damage.

“We are not prepared for this toxic mix. International and national safety nets are frayed,” he stated. “Not only that, we know very little about what is happening in the lives of those most affected.”

As part of its commitment to provide world leaders with solid information and analysis, the UN has produced a new report, entitled Voices of the Vulnerable: the Economic Crisis from the Ground Up, which describes how the crisis is affecting people and households around the world.

Released last week, the report finds that 100 million more people are likely to have been pushed below the poverty line as a result of the economic crisis. In addition, global unemployment could also increase by up to 61 million between 2007 and 2009.

The Secretary-General also highlighted the report today in a message to the Global Creative Leaders Summit, in which he noted that while there is talk of “green shoots” of recovery, UN data show another picture.

“A new crisis is spreading,” he said in the message, which was delivered by Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships.

“It is not the chronic poor who are most affected, but the near and working poor, whose lives had improved significantly over the last decade. The near poor are becoming the new poor.

“Our response,” said the Secretary-General, “demands bold action and generosity but also good, up-to-date information.”

That is why, in addition to the report, the UN is developing the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System, referred to as GIVAS, which seeks to monitor and draw attention to emerging crises.

GIVAS also aims to provide early, real-time data to the international community on how external shocks, such as the economic crisis, are affecting the welfare of the vulnerable and poor.

It comes none too soon, Mr. Ban said, noting that “when global shockwaves hit, you need to make sound and speedy decisions.”