Spain falls short on international aid goals

Speaking in Madrid on Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged nations to do more to fulfill the goal of reducing extreme poverty and improving living standards by 2015. Spain, however, halved its aid spending in 2012.

Spain falls short on international aid goals
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy during a joint press conference in Madrid on Thursday. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

UN member states in 2000 agreed to eight targets known as Millennium Development Goals aimed to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women by 2015.

Halving the number of people who live on less than one dollar a day by 2015 is one of the goals that was set in 2000.

"I am making an appeal that we speed up the actions which we must take," the UN chief said at the end of a meeting of United Nations agencies in Madrid.

"We must carry out the promises we have made, which we made to families around the world," he added.

The UN Secretary General's comments came a day after Spain's El Pais newspaper reported Spain had cuts its official development aid by half in 2013.

Spain gave out $1.5 billion (€1.95 billion) in aid in 2012, which was 0.15 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).

El Pais said this was a long way from the target of 0.7 percent of GDP for aid spending set by the ruling socialist government of the time.

Aid spending in Spain reached a peak of 0.5 in 2008. Since then, it has fallen 70 percent.

"With these brutal cuts, we are now at the levels seen at the end of the 1980s," said a spokesperson for the peak development NGO CONGD.

But Spain's Foreign Ministry responded by saying that budget cuts had obliged them to make cuts.

Not all European countries have cut their aid spending to such a great extent during the crisis. Portugal has made cuts of 12 percent while Greek spending on aid fell 17 percent.

Luxembourg is at the top of the European aid spending table, giving out 1 percent of its GDP towards development.

In terms of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals certain countries achieved the goals set down, many — particularly in the most needy areas such as sub-Saharan Africa — have made little progress.

Around 870 million people around the world suffer from hunger, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, former Brazilian minister for food security Graziano da Silva, told the gathering.

"Despite the efforts which we have made, the numbers are not very encouraging," he said.

Aid programmes that target women hold the key to eradicating hunger and poverty, the deputy director of the UN World Food Programme, Amir Abdulla, said.

"Women are the secret weapon against hunger, they are the ultimate force multiplier to fight against malnutrition. When women have food children eat.

When they are helped to grow food, communities eat," he said.

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.