Children in West and Central Africa
Children in West and Central Africa have their rights violated on daily basis to an extent that is worse than anywhere else in the world. Nearly 2 children out of 10 never reach their fifth birthday. They die from malaria, diarrheoal diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. Malnutrition is widespread in the region. In the Sahel countries, half of the child mortality is related to under-nutrition in children.Nearly 2 children out of 10 in West and Central Africa never reach their fifth birthday.
Children that do survive their fifth birthday often do not end going to school. Poverty and traditional beliefs keep 40% of children out of school. Girls are particularly penalized. Schools are not always the child friendly places they are supposed to be. As is the case in the other parts of the world, many children in West & Central Africa face sexual and other forms of violence in school. Children in the region are also being abused and exploited in many ways: child trafficking, child labor, children in armed conflicts, children victims of harmful traditional practices.
Particularly vulnerable are children orphaned by AIDS. The worst impact of the AIDS pandemic is yet to come in the region. But today, already close to 5 million children in West & Central Africa are orphaned by AIDS and have to build their future and that of their brothers and sisters without the caring and protective environment of one or both of their parents. Numerous conflicts and/or emergencies in the region also worsen the situation of children in the region.
A lot of progress will be needed for the countries in West & Central Africa to reach the Millennium Development Goals that were approved in 2000. UNICEF, together with sister UN agencies, as well as with non-governmental organizations and thanks to the support from donors from all parts of the world, is supporting the governments in the region to increase their efforts to ameliorate the situation of children.