Progress made, but much more work needed on child rights – UNICEF

Guyana has made significant progress for children in the areas of access to quality education, healthcare, reduction of child mortality and the impact of diseases on children’s lives, UNICEF said today as it marked Universal Children’s Day.

However, despite important progress there are still disparities which should be addressed. Violence and abuse continue to be areas of concern, and can significantly affect the wellbeing of children, the organisation said in a press release.

There has been enormous progress realized for children since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989, but the rights of millions of children are still being violated every day. “With conflicts, crises, and crushing poverty putting millions of children’s lives and futures at risk, protecting child rights is more urgent than ever – and a critical key to building stronger, more stable societies,” Representative (ai) of UNICEF in Guyana Paolo Marchi said. “We need to stop these violations by investing more in reaching the most vulnerable children, or pay the price in slower growth, greater inequality, and less stability.”

The CRC, the world’s most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty, sets out a basic, universal standard for a healthy, protected, decent childhood for every human being. Guyana ratified the CRC on 14 January 1991.

UNICEF pledged to continue its partnership with the Government of Guyana to support national strategic plans and programmes in the areas of safety and justice, life-long learning and social inclusion and child rights monitoring, with emphasis on equity, and on reaching the most vulnerable children and their families.

Continued emphasis will also be placed on child protection, to ensure that violence, abuse and neglect of children is sufficiently addressed, including a multisectoral approach to violence prevention, and stronger child protection systems.

UNICEF will support the development and implementation of targeted prevention programmes for juveniles considered at risk of being in contact with the law, and will also support the alignment of juvenile justice procedures with international standards, the release said.

“Education and early childhood development are also important areas of focus, particularly the provision of equitable and inclusive early childhood services, especially for the most vulnerable girls and boys. We continue to advocate for positive discipline and inclusive education for all children and adolescents,” UNICEF said.

Meanwhile, the UN children’s organisation noted that despite the evidence of marked progress for children globally in recent decades, nearly six million children still die every year from preventable causes – and children from poor households are twice as likely as children from wealthier homes to die before reaching their fifth birthdays.

“Nearly 50 million children have been uprooted – 28 million of them displaced by conflict. Children trapped in besieged areas – including Syria, Iraq, and northern Nigeria are at greater risk of having their rights violated, with their schools, hospitals and homes under attack,” UNICEF noted, adding that around 250 million children live in countries affected by conflict.

In addition, the release said, almost 385 million children live in extreme poverty and over a quarter of a billion school-aged children are not learning. Nearly 300 million children live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – six or more times higher than international guidelines.

 

Next month UNICEF will mark 70 years of working to bring life-saving aid, long-term support and hope to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.

“Every child has the right to grow up healthy and strong, to be educated and protected, and to have a fair chance in life,” said Marchi. “Our commitment to child rights must be matched with action for every child.

 

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