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UN rights expert urges Ghana to address growing inequality, poverty

[JURIST] After a 10 day visit to Ghana, the UN Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights released a preliminary report [official website] Wednesday urging Ghana to address growing inequality and poverty.

The full report will be forthcoming in June and focuses on the progress and promise in the West African nation.

The report lauds Ghana for its progress in democratic institutions and economic growth. As such, it serves as an example for other countries in the region and on the continent. The Special Rapporteur emphasized, however, that much work remains to be done. Nearly a quarter of Ghanians live in poverty and 8 percent in extreme poverty. While its economy is doing well, most of the gains over the last decade have accrued to those who are already wealthy. The UN expert urged the government to take steps that can help lift people out of poverty and promote more broadly shared prosperity.

The consequences of failure could be dire. The report lists high youth unemployment as a serious concern. This unemployment can lead to a feeling of hopelessness which makes youths prime targets for radicalization. With extremest groups operating in neighboring Burkina Fasso and regional giant Nigeria, this threat looms large. The Special Rapporteur, Phillip Alston [official profile], said that issues of transparency and social protection should be addressed to avoid future problems and maintain Ghana's exemplary status in the region.

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