Republican News · Thursday 29 June 2000

[An Phoblacht]

No letup in child poverty

Western states are quick to set development and economic standards for other countries, but life in the USA, Europe and Japan is not easy for all. The latest report from UNICEF reveals that the families of more than 47 million children, who live in the ``rich'' western world, cannot guarantee their health and/or well being. The report points out that one in every six children in Europe, USA and Japan lives in poverty.

UNICEF's findings show that a very significant percentage of minors in 29 of the member states of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) ``are at risk'' as their basic needs cannot be guaranteed by their families. Though some of those 29 countries have seen their economies flourish, many children are still living in destitute conditions.

The proportion of children living below the national poverty line in Ireland is 16.8%. Of the 23 countries surveyed, Ireland ranks the sixth worst, with Turkey at 19.7%, Britain (19.8%), Italy (20.5%), the USA with 22.4% and Mexico (26.2%).

In September 2001, the United Nation Special Session on Children will take place to review progress and shortfalls in protecting children over the last 10 years. A preparatory meeting was held in New York on 30 May. In September 1990, 71 heads of state and government met at the World Summit for Children and adopted a set of goals to improve children lives. The following are some of the issues that will be highlighted at the meeting, promises to children still unkept by those in positions of power.

Over the last 20 years, as the world economy flourished, the number of people living in poverty has grown to more than 1.2 billion - one in every five people - including 600 million children. Globalisation is not making the lives of the majority easier.

Even in countries with robust economic growth, poverty is increasing. In Latin America, the poorest 20% of people share less than 3% of national income.

Every day that governments fail to meet their obligations, 30,500 boys and girls under the age of five die of preventable causes, and even more succumb to illnesses, neglect, accidents and assaults that could have been prevented.

Every month that an awareness campaign is postponed, 250,000 children and youths become infected with HIV/AIDS. Every day, 8,500 children and young people around the world are infected with HIV and 2,500 women die from AIDS. In 1998 alone, the number of women killed by HIV/AIDS was 900,000 - more than three times the death toll of the war in Bosnia. An estimated 200,000 Africans, most of them women and children, died as a result of conflicts in 1998, while 2 million people were killed by AIDS.

Every year, 585,000 women die of complications of pregnancy and childbirth that could have been prevented.

In the last year alone, nearly 31 million refugees and displaced people were caught in conflicts that ravaged the world.

Every year that governments neglect their duty to spend what is needed to support basic social services and that development assistance is reduced, millions of children throughout the developing world suffer. They are deprived of access to safe water and sanitation facilities, and of the health and educational services that are vital for them to survive and develop.

According to estimates by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work in developing countries, and some 60 million do so in hazardous circumstances.

More than 2 million children have been killed in the last 10 years, and more than 6 million have been injured or disabled in armed conflicts.

Contents Page for this Issue
Reply to: Republican News