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UN Urges Protection of Children's Rights

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urges governments to maintain investment in children despite the global economic downturn.

"The primary responsibility of looking after children belongs to governments," UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Director Mehr Khan said last week.

"We advocate very strongly that governments keep resources for children and try to increase them as much as possible when they are facing budget cuts," she said.

"That is the most important investment countries can make in good times and in bad times," Khan said, adding that children are the future of society.

Nearly 30 percent of the world's children, or 600 million, live in the East Asia and Pacific region, which spans from Mongolia to East Timor and from Myanmar to the Pacific islands, as defined by UNICEF.

Khan said this region has many achievements to its credit. But there are still some serious issues such as reduction in maternal mortality, malnutrition, water and sanitation to be addressed by this region.

Khan said she was very much impressed by China's achievements in promoting the well-being of children.

More than half of the children in East Asia and the Pacific live in China.

In the past decade, China has achieved 21 of the 24 goals set at the World Summit for Children.

Khan said these achievements were made largely through the strong political will of the Chinese Government, careful planning of programmes and sufficient allocation of resources.

"We hope China will keep to the way it has done in the past," Khan said. "We are very optimistic."

(China Daily November 26, 2001)

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