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Millennium Development Goals set to be missed if aid continues to fail minorities, says MRG

16 September 2010

Minorities and indigenous peoples are among the most in need, but have so far benefited the least from the Millennium Development Goals, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) on the eve of a global poverty summit in New York.

The international human rights organisation insists an immediate change is needed in the way overseas aid is delivered; otherwise these vulnerable groups will remain in poverty.

“Minorities make up a substantial part of those for whom global commitments so far have not brought progress. It is high time for governments to adjust focus on the poorest of the poor if they are to come close to meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” says Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director.

Minorities and indigenous peoples often live in remote areas with poor infrastructure or come from poorer households. Discrimination, personal abuse or language barriers can worsen economic and social deprivation of these communities.

In India, 41 per cent of all out-of-school children and 120 million illiterate people are from scheduled castes or tribes, also known as Dalits and Adivasis. Dalit children are often segregated in classrooms and during school meals and are more likely to be subjected to corporal punishment by teachers.

Minorities can easily become targets of violence in conflicts and are often forced from their homes. In Iraq large numbers belonging to religious minorities have been displaced either inside the country or as refugees and asylum-seekers in other countries. Mainly due to this conflict, the number of people living in slums in the region has increased from 2.9 million in 2000 to 10.7 million in 2010.

International aid, however, often fails to reach poor households and remote or conflict-stricken regions. Donors are often less willing to carry out large-scale programmes or investment in regions which do not hold out hopes for immediate success. Governments may also lack the capacity to involve minorities and indigenous communities in planning and decision-making. Without their involvement, impact on the ground is less viable.

“Meaningful participation by minorities in effective aid allocation is more important than ever if states want the most marginalised communities to attain the ambitions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”, adds Lattimer.

MRG says that participation by minority and indigenous women is crucial to attain UN poverty reduction, education and health targets in particular. Women are more affected by rises in unemployment and violence and may face discrimination from their own communities, such as denial of the right to own land or being subject to female genital mutilation. Women are, however, often underrepresented in the political and social decision-making processes that affect their lives.

The global amount of international development assistance dropped by $2.7 billion in 2009, affecting Africa in particular. Overall, countries are far from reaching the UN target of 0.7% of GNP for official aid.

The UN MDG Summit will take place from 20-22 September in New York when world leaders gather to discuss further steps to eradicate global poverty by 2015.

Notes to the editor

  • According to the UN, the Millennium Development Goals ‘represent human needs and basic rights that every individual around the world should be able to enjoy—freedom from extreme poverty and hunger; quality education, productive and decent employment, good health and shelter; the right of women to give birth without risking their lives; and a world where environmental sustainability is a priority, and women and men live in equality.’
  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.

Interview opportunities are available with:

  • Mark Lattimer, Executive Director, MRG.
  • Carl Soderberg, Head of Policy and Communications, MRG.

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:

MRG Press Office
Farah Mihlar/Emma Eastwood
T: +44 (0) 207 422 4205
M: +44 (0) 7870 596 863
Contact target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>the MRG Press Office or [email protected]