Pakistan says floods washed away development progress

Pakistan says floods washed away development progress

Pakistan said Tuesday that the massive floods severely affecting 20 million people have also destroyed many of the country's accomplishments in building a viable infrastructure, food crops and health services, dpa reported.

Pakistan had been trying to meet the Millennium Development Goals, until this summer's floods caused the worst humanitarian disaster in the country's history.

All developing countries were meeting in New York for the second day to review progress since 2000 in meeting the goals, which set concrete expectations for 2015.

"The unprecedented floods that hit the country in late July, causing massive loss to crops, dwellings, services, industrial and communication infrastructure, have changed almost everything," Foreign Minister Mahmoud Qureshi said.

Pakistan had made three reports since 2000 on progress in the MDGs. It now would need billions of dollars for reconstruction and to relaunch the goals to sharply reduce the number of extreme poor, provide primary education to all children, deliver health services and end child and maternal deaths.

Cuba, regularly hard hit by Caribbean hurricanes, said it has "mostly" reached the ambitious UN goals and even surpassed expectations in some cases.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, citing the socialist revolution led by Fidel Castro in the 1950s, said: "This is the result of the revolution, which has improved the wellbeing of the population in an environment of equality and social justice."

Castro himself said recently that the Cuban revolution was not the best economic development model for the island nation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, addressing the world's 49 least developed countries (LDCs) as part of the MDG session in the UN General Assembly, said that half of the 800 million inhabitants of the LDCs live below the extreme poverty line, defined by the World Bank as people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day.

"Hunger and malnutrition are widespread," Ban said. "Progress in improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality has been slow."

Ban said that the LCDs have inadequate transport infrastructure, and uneven distribution of power lines has hampered economic development and competition.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Ban, presidents of the African Union Commission and foundations to call for better nutrition for children.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an address to the MDGs conference that Moscow has aimed development assistance to former Soviet republics, known as Commonwealth of Independent States. He said the CIS have received preferential loans totalling 4.6 billion dollars. Moscow has provided billions of dollars to developing countries.

"We intend to continue to pursue these efforts in support of the countries of the CIS as well as developing countries in other regions, first of all in Africa," Lavrov said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a rare appearance at a UN meeting in New York, said that development policy cannot be effective without security, while peacekeeping efforts will lead to nothing without the prospect of development.

Merkel said she was firmly convinced that the MDGs cannot be "interpreted as a kind of menu from which you can choose what you like best."

   She said that developing countries carried the primary responsibility to use development aid effectively.

   "Development aid cannot continue indefinitely," she said. "The task is to use limited resources as effectively as possible."

Germany is the third-largest contributor to the UN budget and among the largest development aid donors. "Even during the financial crisis we have not reduced our aid budget," Merkel pointed out.

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