LONDON : More than one billion children,
half of the world's population of children, suffer from
poverty, violent conflict and the scourge of AIDS, the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Thursday in its annual
The rights of children to a healthy and
protected upbringing, as laid out in the widely-adopted 1989
Convention on the Rights of the Child, were regularly
imperiled, due in part to the failure of governments to carry
out human rights and economic reforms, UNICEF said.
"When half the world's children
are growing up hungry and unhealthy, when schools have become
targets and whole villages are being emptied by AIDS, we've
failed to deliver on the promise of childhood," UNICEF
executive director Carol Bellamy said at the report launch in
"Too many governments are making informed,
deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood," she said.
The aid organization, the world leader helping
children, worked with researchers from Britain's London School
of Economics and Bristol University to compile statistics
which paint a dire portrait of youth at risk in much of the
Some 640 million children lack adequate
shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million
have no access to health care services and 140 million -
mostly girls - have never been to school, they found.
More seriously, at least 700 million children suffered
from more than one form of "severe deprivation", which also
includes a lack of access to information and sanitation, they
The 10th annual UNICEF report, a comprehensive
look at minors across all continents, said war and HIV/AIDS
had destroyed networks that normally protected children and at
times turned them into direct targets.
Nearly half of
the 3.6 million people killed in war since 1990 have been
children, according to the report. Karin Landgren, the head of
UNICEF's child protection programme, said that while six
million children had been permanently injured in conflict many
more carried "scars less visible" from rape, loss and overall
"So many of the systems children normally rely
on to keep them safe break down", she said in a video on the
The report cited the hostage-taking
of schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia in September as an example
of minors being made into targets in international conflicts.
Peter Mcdermott, the head of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS
program, called the epidemic's impact on children "huge and
getting worse. In fact, the worst is yet to come."
Fifteen million of them have been orphaned -
four-fifths of those in sub-Saharan Africa - by the incurable
Millions were transformed into care providers
for sick parents and siblings, he said.
"The State of
the World's Children 2005" also pointed out that children in
rich countries were victims of rising poverty rates, as well.
It said that in 11 of 15 industrialized nations for which data
was available, the proportion of children living in low-income
households over the last decade had risen.
included Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland,
where poverty was raised to 16.6 percent of all children in
the late 1990s and early 2000s from 14.0 percent a decade
earlier. US child poverty rates had fallen but still were at
21.9 percent, it said.
UNICEF criticized governments
for failing to work toward the UN's Millennium Development
Goals which notably committed countries to reducing their
mortality rate for children under five by two-thirds, between
1990 and 2015.
Instead, 29,000 children under five die
each day, largely from preventable diseases, and sub-Saharan
Africa and the former Soviet republics will likely not reach
the Millennium goals, the report said. -