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Press Release

UNICEF Chief Vows Renewed Drive to Protect Rights of All Children

BOSTON / NEW YORK, 29 September - Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund, said today that the postponement of the biggest global meeting on children in more than a decade had only deepened UNICEF's resolve to fulfil its mandate of ensuring the survival, protection and development of every child.

For more on UNICEF's role in the Afghanistan crisis

"The drive for child rights goes on - and UNICEF and its many partners are more determined than ever to see it through," Bellamy told a conference on children and violence in Boston.

The long-planned UN meeting, the General Assembly Special Session on Children, was to have met from 19-21 September. Despite commitments from more than 80 heads of State and Government, it was postponed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC and western Pennsylvania. It is expected to be rescheduled for sometime in the first half of 2002.

In a keynote address to the Conference today, sponsored by the Brookline-based Coalition for a Strong United Nations, Bellamy said the attacks had struck a blow not only at the United States, but at "the entire international community."

"Almost overnight, the world's political and economic landscape has been transformed," Bellamy told the Conference. "But our mandate remains unchanged - to confront violence, bigotry and hatred with the same determination that we attack the causes from which they spring: conflict, ignorance, poverty and disease.

The Executive Director noted that humanitarian emergencies, including the proliferation of armed conflict, continue to take a horrific toll on children.

In Afghanistan alone, she said, the UN estimates that 7.5 million civilians - more than 70 per cent of them women and children - are at risk in a humanitarian crisis that has begun to assume "stunning" proportions.

She also noted the effects of violence on children in developed countries, including domestic child abuse, school shootings - and the attacks of Sept. 11th, in which an estimated 15,000 children lost one or both parents.

"Human security does not imply simply the absence of war," Bellamy declared. "It means having the confidence that our children will not die of measles or malaria. It means having access to clean water and proper sanitation. It means having primary schools close to our homes that educate our children free of charge. It means having the basics of life that allow quality of life. It means building a world fit for children, where every child can grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity."

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For further information contact:

Liza Barrie, UNICEF Media Section, New York
Tel.: 212-326-7593, lbarrie@unicef.org

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media Section, New York
Tel: 212-326-7261, e-mail: aironside@unicef.org