UN envoy to review causes of poverty, exclusion in Spain

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty on 2019 fact-finding mission to Malaysia. Photo: Bassan Khawaja / El País
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The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Philip Alston, will arrive to Spain Monday at the start of a two-week fact-finding mission into the extent and causes of poverty in Spanish society.

Alston, a 75-year-old Australian human-rights lawyer and co-chair of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University’s School of Law, will meet with anti-poverty activists, academics and individuals and families living in poverty or at risk of poverty across Spain. He will also meet with local and regional government administrators and officials within the new PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition government charged with tackling poverty and social exclusion.

► News Sources: El País, El Confidencial and Europa Press …

According to the United Nations, Spain has one of the highest rates of people living at risk of poverty and social exclusion anywhere in Europe and the fact-finding visit of the special rapporteur aims to find out the root causes of poverty in Spain and what is being done to alleviate the situation.

Spain’s situation with regard to poverty is noteworthy, Alston told the daily El País newspaper, because while “the government has succeeded in restoring economic growth after the recession, the benefits have not been directed specifically at those who have suffered the most from the crisis.”

In fact, Spain’s poverty problem has grown and not diminished since the return to economic growth after the crisis triggered by the global mortgage debt-swap calamity of 2008. According to the United Nations, an estimated 26.1 percent of Spain’s population currently lives at risk of poverty and social exclusion, while in 2008 that percentage was 23.8 percent.

A preliminary assessment of Alston’s findings will be issued at the end of his two-week visit on 7th February, with a full report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.

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