When the World Economic Forum (WEF) met last January in Switzerland, attended mostly by the rich and the super-rich, the London-based charity Oxfam unveiled a report with an alarming statistic: if current trends continue, the world’s richest one percent would own more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth by 2016.
"My child became blind and lost the ability to speak, his dad died and his three brothers are seriously wounded. He still has not been told about the loss of his dad,” says the mother of 7-year-old Mohamad Badran.
With 17 months before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reach their targets by the December 2015 deadline, the United Nations is trumpeting its limited successes - but with guarded optimism.
With the richest one percent of the population now owning 40 percent of global assets, and the bottom half sharing just one percent, inequality is fast being recognised as a stubborn underlying obstacle to development.
The United Nations has singled out China - the world's most populous country with over 1.3 billion people - as one of the key success stories in the longstanding battle against poverty.