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Policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights

UNICEF supports report calling for more aid to Africa

© UNICEF/HQ03-0273/Harboe
Nine-year-old Fatun and her younger brother wait in a queue for the arrival of a water tanker, near the town of Gode in Ethiopia. They are among 450 internally displaced persons, who have been living for some five years in a camp near the town.

NEW YORK, 11 March 2005 - UNICEF today welcomed the report produced by the UK-led Commission for Africa, which urges the international community, especially the rich nations, to immediately double their foreign aid to Africa.

The report “Our Common Interest,” calls for cancellation of all debts, making the fight against HIV/AIDS a priority, and providing free primary education for all African children.

“This report has some bold new ideas,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam. “For example, the report talks about the need of investing in the infrastructure of Africa. It talks about improving the governance of Africa, it talks about raising the level of spending on HIV/AIDS by $10 billion a year. We welcome that,” said Mr. Gautam.

© UNICEF/HQ04-0893/Noorani
A woman and four small children shelter in a tent in the Kalma camp near Nyala, Darfur. Some 93,600 displaced people presently live in the UNICEF-supported camp.

The report also asks for significant increase in the investment in education, and abolishing fees in primary schools. “We saw that two years ago, when Kenya abolished school fees, a million children enrolled overnight. We need similar momentum in other countries,” said Mr. Gautam.

Mr. Gautam agreed that Africa deserves to be a top priority for the world. “The situation of children in Africa is very critical. Although Africa has only 12 per cent of the world’s population, it counts for 43 per cent of the world’s child deaths, more than 50 per cent of the world’s maternal deaths, more than 70 per cent of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases, and almost 90 per cent of the world’s children orphaned by AIDS. If we fail in Africa, we will fail in the whole world.”

© UNICEF/HQ04-0563/Hyun
A boy peers into a classroom at Kyengere Primary School in the district of Masaka, Uganda.

In addition, the report calls for African leaders to move towards democracy, tackle corruption and end conflicts. “Aid is only one part of the solution. This report talks about abolishing subsidies – that rich countries give to their farmers, traders, which discourages production in developing countries in Africa,” explained Mr. Gautam.

“Part of UNICEF’s job is to ensure that people in rich countries are aware of the plight of the children. I think we do a good job through our national committees, through our own education efforts to inculcate in the younger generation that we live in a global village. Solidarity for children and other vulnerable people in developing countries is in the interest of everybody. We can’t live in a cocoon while you have millions of people living in poverty, such a world is not a world fit for children,” concluded Mr. Gautam.




11 March 2005:
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam says the report “Our Common Interest” is welcomed by UNICEF.

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