Children: victims of war and poverty

Published: Tuesday 30 June 1992

-- WAR HAS emerged as a major child-killer in the 1980s. Some 1.5 million children died in conflicts; Five million were turned into refugees and another 12 million were rendered homeless. War caused just five per cent of the civilian deaths during the First World War; 50 per cent in the Second. Today it accounts for 80 per cent. The majority of victims were women and children.

Lack of sanitation claims many young lives in the South. Some 82 per cent of the urban population have access to water and 72 per cent to sanitation. Rural figures are 63 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively. (Source: UNEP's State of the World's Environment, 1991.) UNICEF claims that 80 per cent of the immunisation target in 1he developing world is being met, which has saved three million children every year, Of this, 1.9 million have been saved from measles, 0.7 million from neo-natal tetanus, 0.6 million from whooping cough and 0.4 million from polio. Primary health care and education accounted for less than 15 per cent of total central government spending.

Interestingly, in USA, despite a 25 per cent rise in GNP, the number of poor children increased in the 1980s. And its not just Black children who are affected. Of USA's 12 million poor children, the majority are estimated to be white. Most live outside the big cities (Source: State of the World's Children, 1992).

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