Wednesday, October 05, 2005

[MDGs] UN: 200 M of World's Youth Live in Poverty

With over 200 million youth around the world living in poverty, 130 million illiterate, 88 million unemployed, and 10 million having HIV/AIDS, today's youth are dealing with serious challenges and concerns, a UN report released on Tuesday said.

According to the World Youth Report 2005, which is finished by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the UN Secretariat, estimates based on available poverty data from 2002 indicate that some 209 million young people, or 18 percent of all youth, currently live on less than 1 US dollar per day, and 515 million live on less than 2 dollars per day. Although the current generation of youth is the best-educated so far, 113 million children are not in school and 130 million young people are illiterate, the report said.

In spite of the progress achieved in education, global youth unemployment has increased to a record high of 88 million, the report disclosed. Rates of unemployment among young people are highest in West Asia, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, and there is growing pressure on young people to compete in an increasingly globalized labor market, it added.

On the health issue, the report found globally, young people are reaching adolescence earlier and marrying later, with premarital sexual behavior appearing to be increasing. Although early pregnancy has declined in many countries, it is still a major concern worldwide, and HIV/AIDS is the primary cause of mortality among youth, followed by violence and injuries, it said. In accordance with the grim statistics of the 192-page report, 10 million young people, most of whom in Africa and Asia, are currently living with HIV/AIDS. The epidemic has had a devastating impact on the sexual and reproductive health of young people, as they are particularly vulnerable to infection, the report said.

However, amid the grim picture portrayed in the report, there are positive signs. It pointed out that the number of children completing primary school has continued to increase since 1995, and four out of five young people in the eligible age group are now in secondary school. Tertiary enrollment has risen as well, and it is estimated that some 100 million youth are presently engaged in university-level studies worldwide, the report noted.

The report said the statistics and trends point to one key message -- investments in young people need to be increased to implement the 1995 World Program of Action for Youth and to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring universal primary education, and stemming the AIDS pandemic, all by 2015. The report was published just two days ahead of a daylong General Assembly session devoted to the issue of youth. Young delegates from two dozen countries and 300 youth organizations have registered to attend the meeting.

"While there is still enormous diversity among young people worldwide, the processes of urbanization and globalization and rapid advances in information and communications technology have arguably contributed to the emergence of a new global media-driven youth culture," UN Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo said in a foreword to the report.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing held in conjunction with the report's release, Johan Scholvinck, director of DESA, said: "The year 2015 is the year when we are supposed to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but large numbers of youth live in poverty." He said to an audience of mostly young delegates attending the briefing that actions taken now will benefit not only them but also children who will grow to be youths in 10 years.

Source: Xinhua

The World Youth Report 2005 is available here