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Goals for children last a lifetime

UNICEF says missing data mean missing children; urges states in Europe and Central Asia to gather and analyse data on children

PALENCIA/MADRID, 19 June 2006 - UNICEF says poverty, violence and exclusion still dominate the lives of millions of children in Europe and Central Asia, despite progress on legal and institutional reforms.

“Too often, we see that legislation is on the books but that many children remain on the margins of society - not registered at birth, not in school, too poor to see a doctor and, for that, all the more vulnerable to violence and abuse,” said Rima Salah, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.

“The main challenge now is to fast-forward on these reforms and make them a reality for every child,” added Marta Santos Pais, Director of the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence.  “This can only be done by having children involved from the beginning and listening to what they have to say.”

To this effect, the Spanish Government has generously agreed to host the III Intergovernmental Conference on a Europe and Central Asia Fit for Children in Palencia, to reaffirm commitments made at the UN Special Session on Children in May 2002 and to move the process into top gear.

The Conference runs from 19-20 June, during which governments from all over the region will exchange experiences and cement partnerships to deliver change on the ground for children from Ireland to Kyrgyzstan and from Russia to Turkey.

The three areas of discussion in Palencia are:

• Child Poverty and Social Exclusion
• Violence Against Children
• Monitoring Mechanisms for Children’s rights

Violence against Children is the subject of a benchmark report commissioned by the UN General Assembly, which the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, will present in October this year.

A chronic lack of reliable, comparable data, broken down by income, gender, age, ethnic and social origin, and place of residence is a crucial challenge.  Without data of this kind, it is difficult to take appropriate action and to measure progress on children’s rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

UNICEF urges States to make the disaggregation of data a priority.

“Often data on children are missing.  Children are therefore invisible and their fundamental rights are denied,” said Maria Calivis, Regional Director of UNICEF in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Problems also arise when financial resources are not directed to children.

“Every day decisions are taken that neglect children in budgetary allocations.  This means teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers are not adequately trained to interact with children nor have they the means to do so. This is false economy,” noted Philip O’Brien, Regional Director of UNICEF’s Office for Europe.

“Children deserve to see the same passion that rightly goes into World Cup goals, directed towards goals for them.  A goal for children is not short-lived like the goals of the Word Cup; a goal for children lasts a lifetime and can change a generation,” said Calivis.

For many years, UNICEF has called for more consultation with children and more participation by children in the research, design and monitoring of policies and programmes relating to them.  Children, together with civil society groups, the media, parliamentarians and service providers will make the critical difference in bringing about a Europe and Central Asia that is truly fit for them.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, 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.

For further information, please contact:

Elena Crego, Head of Communications, Spanish National Committee for UNICEF
Tel. +34 62 947 6380

Belen Barbero, Communication Officer, Spanish National Committee for UNICEF
Tel. +34 91 378 9558

Lynn Geldof, Regional Communication Advisor, UNICEF CEE/CIS
Tel. +41 79 431 1537

On the Web:

Spanish National Committee for UNICEF, www.unicef.es

UNICEF CEE/CIS, www.unicef.org/ceecis

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, www.unicef-icdc.org




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