, CAIRO, Dec 21 – Nearly 140 million Arabs live below the poverty line, according to a report published on Sunday by the United Nations Development Programme and Arab League.
The joint report stressed "there has been no decrease in the rates of poverty in the Arab region over the past 20 years," with some countries actually showing an increase.
"Overall poverty remains high, reaching up to 40 percent on average, which means that nearly 140 million Arabs continue to live under the upper poverty line."
The document entitled "Development Challenges for the Arab Region: A Human Development Approach" also indicated youth unemployment was "the highest in the world" in Arab countries.
"The proportion of young people of the total unemployed population is more than 50 percent for most Arab countries," it said.
The challenge for Arab countries was to provide "51 million new jobs over the next 10 years," which would not reduce unemployment but "contribute to preventing its increase and maintaining it at current levels until 2020."
The report was drafted ahead of a world summit in September next year to mark the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Millenium Goals when world leaders pledged to reduce poverty and hunger by half by 2015.