UNICEF 2004 report on children:Children threatened [Archives:2005/803/Community]

January 3 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
The 2004 report issued by UNICEF highlights the biggest challenges of children throughout the world in the coming year.

The 2004 report is titled “Threatened Childhood” and places poverty, armed conflicts, and HIV at the top of the list of challenges.

The report emphasizes the many dimensions that poverty takes saying that children who live in destitution are deprived of basic rights such as health, nutrition, education, and the protection from harm.

There are more than a billion children suffering from a lack of nutrition, water and basic medical services. Sexual discrimination is now also accepted as a major factor of deprivation that causes lack of equality for children. Poverty deprives 121 million children of primary school age of school attendance.

The report suggests the participation of all authorities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The second challenge is armed conflicts in which children are often exploited as soldiers or sexual slaves. The report points out that children are most affected by armed conflicts, either directly or indirectly, with the destruction of cities and buildings considered to be the main reason for of depriving children of basic services like education and medical care. Children's education may also be suspended because of the absence of teachers or because of landmines and explosives.

The report states that there are no statistics on the number of children used as soldiers in armed conflicts, but estimates there to be hundreds of thousands. They are willingly recruited, kidnapped or pressured into joining the armed forces.

The report confirms that the threat of armed conflict has increased since 1995, and that there are currently 59 conflicts in 48 parts of the world. It estimated that about 90 per cent of those killed are civilians, many of them women and children.

The third challenge is the threat of AIDS (caused by HIV). The report indicates there are about 201 million children below the age of15 who are carriers of the deadly virus.