The United Nations has presented its annual Children’s Fund report, and the outlook is grim — the report states that if all member states do not improve health and education for the most disadvantaged, almost 70 million children under the age of five will die from preventable causes by 2030.
The organization also projected that 750 million young girls will be married while still children and 60 million students mainly from sub-Saharan Africa will quit primary school. The 172-page report warned that the Sustainable Development Goals drafted by the United Nations last year might not be achieved by 2030.
In 2015, the UN established a set of 17 objectives for the eradication of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, gender discrimination and other afflictions. During his speech at the UN’s headquarters in New York, the deputy executive director of Unicef, Justin Forsyth, commented:
“The case that is being made is that we will not hit the goals that we have now set, which were only agreed on a few months ago based on progress unless we focus on the most disadvantaged.”
Since the beginning of the 1990s, under-five mortality rates have been cut in half while extreme poverty worldwide has been reduced by almost 50 percent. The study also concluded that the poorest children were about twice as likely to pass away before they turn five as the richest. In addition to that, young girls from the poorest families mentioned in the report were twice as likely to marry at an early age as girls from wealthier families.
According to the report, a great majority of the preventable children deaths — nearly 80 percent — take place in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo and Ethiopia, writes South China Morning Post.
As of 2015, Angola is highest on the global list with 157 of 1,000 children under five years old dying every year. It is followed by Chad at 139 and Somalia at 137 child deaths for every 1,000 children. Forsyth assured that nearly 150 million children between one- and five-years-old could be saved from preventable death “just with a 2 percent increase in expenditure in 74 countries.” UNICEF also proved that every dollar spent on vaccinations of unprivileged children could bring $16 in terms of economic returns.
Forsyth commented that the report airs at a time when the world is more hostile, especially towards refugees and migrants, including millions of children:
“Our job in UNICEF is to be there on the ground and helping children survive.”
UNICEF Program Director Ted Chaiban estimated that 250 million children are living in conflict zones and about 30 million are displaced, writes Edith M. Lederer of the Associated Press. Increasing xenophobia and nativism among Western countries towards migrants and refugees is a new challenge to the UN and other human rights organizations, admitted Forsyth.
He recommended not to polarize the political debate, but instead to focus on the root causes of poverty and inequality that made these people flee. Addressing the issues for the migration is the key to stopping that huge flow of people to Europe and beyond, concluded Forsyth, quoted by the New York Times.
The report recommended a significant increase in how much money governments invest in education in these regions. UN estimated that funding education to the secondary level in low-income countries would cost $340 billion per year, reports Al Jazeera. At the moment there is a global shortfall of $8.5 billion a year in education funding for the 75 million children in the worst affected regions, which makes an average of $113 per child, concluded the report.