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UN report: Indigenous children on the sidelines of society

NEW YORK, 17 October 2012 – Indigenous children face extreme forms of exclusion and discrimination and are often deprived of access to education, health services, birth registration and social protection, UNICEF said today in a report presented to the United Nations.

Indigenous peoples constitute 15 per cent of the world’s poor and one-third of the world’s extremely poor rural people. Politically vulnerable, indigenous peoples are subject to displacement and migration whether being forcibly removed from ancestral land or having to leave because of environmental degradation or the loss of traditional livelihoods.

Children in indigenous communities are at the core of UNICEF’s equity agenda as they are often disadvantaged and disenfranchised from progress in health, education and protection.

Deprived of access to services available to non-indigenous children, indigenous children face numerous challenges from disabilities, HIV and AIDS and gender-based issues.

Many indigenous children are not in school due to the distance to the nearest school, the lack of bilingual instruction or a lack of consistency between the school calendar and seasonal employment typical of farming or hunter-gathering and pastoral occupations.

When in school, indigenous children are subject to language discrimination, low literacy rates, low enrolment, high dropout rates and disparities in national academic achievements.

As disaggregated statistics on indigenous children are not readily available, the report calls for better monitoring that should ultimately would lead to better access to basic services.

The report, Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is co-drafted by UNICEF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on behalf of the Secretary-General and is presented annually to the Third Committee by UNICEF at UN headquarters in New York.

The report lays the foundation for 8 to10 weeks of debate on this year’s General Assembly resolution on the Rights of the Child with a focus on indigenous children and with the intended impact of creating global awareness of the need among member States and other stakeholders to accelerate measures towards the realization of their rights.

UNICEF also submitted a second report on behalf of the Secretary-General marking the tenth anniversary of the 2002 Special Session on Children, which assesses the steps taken to achieve the goals set out in A World Fit For Children.

The report highlights the global financial, food and fuel crises that have effectively halted or reversed progress toward goals. The report outlines key initiatives, including the Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed movement as advancing policies critical to saving children’s lives.


UNICEF works in 190 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 more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7452, Mobile +1 917 378 2128,




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