UNICEF describes grim trend of the world’s poorest children

UNICEF warned of what it described as grim trend lines for the world’s poorest children over the next 15 years, saying in a new report that many millions face preventable deaths, diseases, stunted growth and illiteracy. The forecasts in the report suggested that despite reductions of poverty and other deprivations in underdeveloped countries since 2000, what’s obscured is a worsening trend among the poorest segments of their populations.

The report was described by UNICEF officials as its “final report card” on whether children had been helped by the so-called Millennium Development Goals, a group of benchmarks established by the United Nations in 2000 for measuring progress in reducing poverty, hunger, child mortality, gender inequality, illiteracy and environmental degradation by the end of 2015.

While the Millennium Development Goals contributed to “tremendous progress for children,” the report said, “In the rush to make that progress, many focused on the easiest-to-reach children and communities, not those in greatest need.” Anthony Lake, the UNICEF executive director, added, “In doing so, national progress may actually have been slowed.”

The report showed, for example, that accounting for population growth, 68 million children under the age of 5 will die of mostly preventable causes by 2030 if current trends in child mortality continue, and 119 million children under 5 will suffer stunted development. It further showed that under current trends, a half billion people–more than the population of the United States–will be practicing open defecation in 2030, posing serious health risks.

[New York Times]

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