KUWAIT - Poor urban infrastructure and high youth unemployment helped fuel the Arab Spring and governments across the region must tackle both if they are to prevent further unrest, the United Nations said in a report on Monday.
The urban population of Arab cities is expected to more than double to 438.6 million by 2050, increasing demand for housing, social services and infrastructure, the UN Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) said.
Although the primary trigger for unrest across the region in the past year appeared to be a desire for more freedom in the face of entrenched autocracies, the report said social factors had intensified people's frustration and would need to be addressed along with their political concerns.
"What is often less understood is that the Arab Spring is really a call for social reform and urban policies that can deliver adequate living conditions for rapidly growing young and poor urbanites," UN Habitat said at the launch of its 'State of Arab Cities 2012' report in Kuwait.
"Youth employment is very high in the Arab region and the chances of finding affordable housing is a dim prospect for many urban youths too," it said.