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Press release

As G8 leaders discuss global poverty, UNICEF puts spotlight on children in poor countries

NEW YORK, 4 June 2004—While leaders of the world's richest countries gather on Sea Island for the G8 Summit, UNICEF calls on them to remember the plight of children in many of the world’s poorest countries.

Over the course of their five day meeting:

  • 12,500 young children will die of malaria 
  • A child will be orphaned by AIDS every 14 seconds
  • 65 million girls will be denied schooling, as they are throughout the year. 
  • more than 160 million will be malnourished
  • 22,000 children will die from diarrhoea - a direct result of not having access to clean water and sanitation.

Last year G8 leaders reiterated their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals--a series of time-bound, quantifiable global development targets--and vowed to make our world a safer, more equal one. But, the world is not advancing fast enough toward one of the most critical of these goals: the survival of the world's poorest children. A shameful 11 million children under the age of five continue to die each year. Six million of these deaths result from preventable and treatable illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles.

Over the last decade, the gap in child death rates between the richest and poorest regions of the world has increased. In industrialized countries, the chance that a child will die before the age of five is 1 in 100. In less-developed countries, that chance is nine times higher. And, in the world's 49 Least Developed Countries, 16 out of 100 children will not make it to the age of five. Sub-Saharan Africa, with only 10 percent of the world’s population, accounts for 42 per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five.

“If we are to meet the Millennium Development Goal aiming to reduce child mortality by two-thirds- the world needs to act with greater deliberation and urgency,” said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. “UNICEF is working on the ground in 158 countries to save young lives. The G8 countries have the power to drive child mortality rates down. UNICEF urges them to use it.”


For more information on child mortality contact:
Erin Trowbridge at 212-326-7172,

For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.




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