One billion kids suffering
12:52 - (SA)
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 on 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 London.
"Too many governments are making informed, deliberate
choices that actually hurt childhood," she said.
Many have never been to school
The aid organisation, 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 world.
About 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 last 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 trauma.
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 programme,
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 disease.
Millions were transformed into care providers for sick parents
and siblings, he said.
About 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.