Saturday, December 11, 2004

Childhood Under Threat

From the NY Times:

More than a billion children - over half the children in the world - suffer extreme deprivation because of war, H.I.V./AIDS or poverty, according to a report released yesterday by the United Nations Children's Fund.

While there have been gains in reducing the death rates of young children and in increasing the number of children in school, the report said that some of the progress made over the past decade and a half had been offset by the toll taken by AIDS and H.I.V., the virus that causes it, and wars, particularly the 55 civil wars since 1990.

...Of the world's estimated 2.2 billion children, over 640 million lived in homes with mud floors or in extreme overcrowded conditions. More than 120 million did not attend primary school, most of them girls. More than 29,000 children died every day of mostly preventable causes. More than 2 million children were employed in the sex industry, while 1.2 million were trafficked.

The report also noted that child poverty had worsened in a number of developed countries, roughly over the past decade, among them Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy. And while the United States still had a child poverty rate substantially higher than any of those European countries - at 21.9 percent - its rate had fallen from 24.3 percent.

The report said that global military spending was $956 billion, while the cost of effectively combating poverty would be $40 to $70 billion.