UNICEF chief calls for end of "unspeakable violations" against children
The "unspeakable violations " that happen almost everyday to children all across the globe need to be a thing of the past, chief of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Ann Veneman said here on Friday, Xinhua reported.
In her remarks on the occasion to mark the Universal Children's Day and the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the UN headquarters in New York, Veneman said: "Let us remember the unspeakable violations of rights that occur almost daily to the most innocent of innocents, children."
Saying that much has been achieved in the past 20 years, Veneman underscored that the annual rate of under age five deaths fell to 28 percent, 1.6 billion people worldwide gained access to improved water sources between 1990 and 2006, and that the gender gap has narrowed where more children attend primary school than previously.
"Children are no longer the missing face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic," she said, adding that advances have also been made in child protection in the face of child soldiers, prostitution and early marriage.
"Yet, much more remains to be done," Veneman warned. "That an estimated 8.8 million children continue to die before they celebrate their fifth birthday is simply unacceptable."
She named preventable diseases, like pneumonia and malaria, as well as malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, lack of healthcare resources and protection against violence and exploitation, as some of the many culprits to children.
Speaking about her personal experiences, Veneman said, "I have spoken to girls in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where sexual violence, pillaging, burning of homes and killing define their daily lives."
"I have met boys who were abducted from their families and forced to wage war in their own countries, sometimes even in their own communities," she said.
"The world must build on the progress achieved to ensure that stories such as theirs become part of the past," Veneman said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the UN General Assembly 's 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which initiated actions aimed at benefiting and promoting the welfare of children worldwide.
Twenty years have passed, too, since the same assembly got a Convention on the Rights of the Child signed to clearly establish the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children.
Now, 193 countries have ratified that convention, making it one of the most endorsed conventions in the world.