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World: UN Says Poverty Has Increased In East Since Communism

New York, 12 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - A United Nations agency says eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have experienced the biggest drop in living standards in the past decade since the fall of communism

The U.N. Development Program (UNDP), in a new report today, said 120 million people, or a quarter of the population, in that area of the world are now living in poverty compared to four million in 1988.

In its report the UNDP ranks countries according to an index which combines life expectancy, education and income. The agency's 1997 Human Development report said that index fell in 30 countries, including Russia. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Canada was ranked first followed by France and Norway.

The report said worldwide some 1,300 million people are barely eking out a living. However it did note a significant drop in worldwide poverty over the century. The report said Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba were leaders in combating poverty.