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UN Lists 14 Asian Nations in Need of Aid


Poverty in Africa is the focus of the coming week's summit meeting of the Group of Eight in Scotland, but the United Nations says the international community also should take note of the needs of struggling Asian nations.

The UN development agency-UNDP is asking international donors to help boost education and health conditions in the 14 least developed nations in Asia.

Governments also are being asked to remove import duties and trade restrictions on goods, and to consider debt relief for these states.

The UNDP report forecasts a grim future for the 14 least developed nations, which range from Samoa to the Maldives and have a combined population of more than a quarter-billion people. UN analysts say Afghanistan's forests are likely to be gone in 20 years, while in Bangladesh, about half of all people aged 15 to 24 will be illiterate 10 years from now.

"The dynamism of Asia represents both a challenge and an opportunity," the UNDP report says, adding a warning that inequalities between rich and poor states could raise regional tensions. Development experts say Asia's poorest countries are often ignored amid spotlights on African poverty and the image of a new prosperity sweeping nations such as China and India.

The regional list of needy countries includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Kiribati and Laos. Also, the Maldives, Nepal, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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