Children’s future threatened by poverty and violence – UNICEF

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-According to new findings, children today face a much bleaker future, much worse than what their parents experienced, despite the progress that has been made in development.

According to the UNICEF analysis, 180 million children live in 37 countries where they are more likely to live in extreme poverty, be out of school, or be killed by violent death than children living in those countries were 20 years ago.

“While the last generation has seen vast, unprecedented gains in living standards for most of the world’s children, the fact that a forgotten minority of children have been excluded from this – through no fault of their own, or those of their families – is a travesty” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF director of data, research and policy in New York. Chandy made the remarks as part of this year’s World Children Day, which took place on November 20. The day marks the day that the Convention on the Rights of the Child was formally adopted by the UN General Assembly.
The day is now called World Children’s Day and is used to promote international solidarity, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.

The UNICEF analysis says despite global progress, 1 in 12 children worldwide live in countries where their prospects today are worse than those of their parents were. In Namibia, the government’s 2012 Child Poverty report indicates that 34 percent of children live in poverty, compared to 29 percent of the general population. Poverty can be seen in the high levels of stunting and malnutrition. Stunting affects 24 percent of children under 5 years old in Namibia. “Namibia has made many strides in addressing the rights of children, and we applaud the Government for that,” said UNICEF representative to Namibia, Rachel Odede.

“At the same time we recognised the challenges that still remain, the obstacles that are making many children, especially from vulnerable households, to remain behind, to be invisible, not have their rights realised and become equal citizens in their country of birth. We need to address these,” says Odede.

Assessing children’s prospects in escaping extreme poverty, getting a basic education and avoiding violent deaths, the UNICEF analysis reveals that the share of people living on less than N$26,71 per day has increased in 14 countries, including Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is mainly because of unrest, conflicts and poor governance. It has also been established that primary school enrolment has declined in 21 countries, including Syria and Tanzania, due to factors such as financial crises, rapid population growth and the impact of conflicts.

A separate UNICEF survey of children aged 9 to 18 years in 14 countries also released yesterday shows that children are deeply concerned about global issues affecting their peers and them personally, including violence, terrorism, conflict, climate change, unfair treatment of refugees and migrants, and poverty.

Other findings are that half the children in 14 countries report feeling disenfranchised when asked how they felt about decisions made that affect children around the world.

Children across all 14 countries identified terrorism, poor education and poverty as the biggest issues they wanted world leaders to take action on.

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