Don’t abandon the children

January 16, 2009

Don’t abandon the children

(January 08 2009 at 07:31AM)

Singapore – Governments should not abandon women and children who need their help most, even as tax revenues shrink because of the global financial crisis, the UN children’s fund warned Tuesday.

Key East Asian and Pacific leaders met in Singapore to discuss how best to protect children by maintaining or scaling up social spending despite tightening budgets.

Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF director for East Asia and the Pacific, urged governments not to forget those dependent on public aid.

“The UN Convention on Children’s Rights, which has been ratified by all nations, is clear: children should get help first, especially in economically difficult times,” Singh told the conference.

More than 150 government officials and experts discuss the lessons learned from the 1997-98 Asian economic crisis, which they hope will help governments for policies for the current crisis, UNICEF said.

People around the world are losing their jobs because of the crisis, affecting families’ ability to pay for schooling, or forcing them to send the children out to work, UNICEF said.

Malnutrition endangers growth and intellectual development, which in turn damage national economic growth.

At this moment when women and children are most vulnerable, governments are faced with reduced revenues and hard choices.

“The economic crisis has major implications for countries’ economic and social resilience, and for children given their added vulnerabilities. We must not compromise their future, even as we deal with the current economic challenges,” Singapore’s Minister for Youth Vivian Balakrishnan said.

“Our choices now will determine whether we restore the rapid development of this region or let decades of social progress towards the Millennium Development Goals erode,” said Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, referring to the UN’s targets on, among others, development and poverty reduction. – Sapa-dpa

11th January 2009

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