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16 June 2010 – Day of the African Child: UNICEF calls for more public investment in children’s welfare

Khartoum/Juba - UNICEF is calling on the Sudanese Government to increase its investment in children´s welfare to address significant shortfalls in healthcare and education, as part of the commemoration of the Day of the African Child and under its theme for this year: planning and budgeting for children.

Among the activities to observe this date, the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW), in collaboration with UNICEF, organised a music and theatre event dedicated especially to children in Wad Medani, Gezira State on the 16 and 17 of June. Under the main theme “Planning and Budgeting for Children: a Collective Responsibility”, the commemoration will go beyond these two days to include a joint meeting with Federal Ministries and state governments in mid-July to advocate for increased government investment in health, education, water and sanitation, and protection for the children of Sudan.

In Southern Sudan, children and parliamentarians will participate in a TV and radio discussions to highlight the need to place children’s issues at the forefront of budgetary decisions. Other activities included child rights workshops with children in various schools and detention centres and discussions with children about how best to allocate funding focused on children’s needs.

“Children are vulnerable and voiceless, particularly when it comes to having access to and control over resources”, said Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Representative in Sudan. “Government spending, specifically on social services, affects children directly. Children must be taken into account when public budgets are prepared”.

The 2006 Sudan Health and Household Survey has revealed alarming figures on the current situation of children in Sudan. Approximately 305,000 children die every year before they reach the age of five; 26,000 mothers a year die giving birth; and around 100,000 babies die at birth or shortly after. Most of these deaths are due to preventable causes.

In education, less than 1% of the GDP was the total expenditure in 2006. While this percentage has improved slightly in recent years, it still remains significantly lower than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Around 3.6 million children in Sudan are currently out of school, mostly due to lack of infrastructure, shortage of trained teachers and the resuming of armed conflict.

Currently, Sudan is not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and greater investments in basic social services and capacity building are essential to accelerate sustainable progress. Actions such as implementing and enforcing the Child Protection Act of 2009, reducing child and maternal mortality, ensuring Universal Primary Education, increasing access to safe water and sanitations, require strong political commitment and financing.

“Decision-makers in the government need to seriously look into this and allocate more budgetary resources to children´s education, protection and health, including access to safe water and adequate sanitation. If Sudan does not invest more in education, health and protection for its children, the future of the country will be compromised”, added Mr. Kastberg.

Note for editors:
The Day of the African Child marks the occasion in 1976 when children in Soweto in South Africa spoke out against the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language. Sadly, their complaints were met with a violent response, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people and the injury of more than 1,000. The Day was established in memory of their sacrifice, and to provide an opportunity to draw the world’s attention every year to continued neglect of children’s rights in Africa.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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, safe 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.



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