URUMQI, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- A total of 520,900 people in poverty-stricken areas in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were lifted out of poverty last year, a regional poverty relief official said Wednesday.
Xinjiang invested more than 33.4 billion yuan in fighting poverty last year, with 92.3 percent of the investment going to the four impoverished prefectures -- Hotan, Kashgar, Aksu and Kizilsu Kirgiz, said Chen Lei, deputy director of the regional poverty alleviation office, at a press conference.
The four prefectures sit on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert, the largest desert in China and the second-largest shifting sand desert in the world. Local residents had remained poor due to the bad natural conditions there.
The region has made efforts to help those who live in extreme poverty find employment, and offered them better medical insurance and free health checks, the office said.
To fulfill the mission of eradicating absolute poverty by 2020, Xinjiang has also tried to help poor farmers and herders move from mountainous regions and desert hinterland to less harsh oases and plains.
Besides relocation, Xinjiang has also been committed to promoting industrial development and providing minimum living allowances for impoverished households in rural areas.