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Sri Lankan Legislators join South Asian Lawmakers to prioritise and safeguard Children’s rights: UN Chief

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Colombo, March 6, 2017: Sri Lankan legislators have joined lawmakers from across South Asia to prioritise and safeguard children’s rights, the UN children’s agency Unicef said on Monday.

According to the Unicef, despite economic growth and improvements in realising the rights of children, massive disparities still exist, preventing children from living in dignity, reaching their full potential and making choices about their futures.

Sri Lanka, home to eight million children under 18, has some of the region’s best health indicators, almost universal primary schooling, with nearly 90 per cent of the population having access to safe drinking water, Xinhua news agency reported.

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However, Unicef noted that violence against children, including physical abuse at home, remains a concern. While the rate of extreme poverty is declining (by 16 per cent between 2002 and 2012), child poverty rates remain higher.

“Even though our indicators are really good, we still have issues like child marriage, school dropouts and migration affecting children,” said Sudarshani Fernandopulle, an MP.

“Children remain at the heart of a country’s development and future economic growth. We need to invest more in policy reform and budgetary allocation in order to address the remaining disparities that prevent every child, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised, from reaching their full potential,” she said at a children’s regional meeting.

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Unicef said the meeting was a milestone in bringing together lawmakers from all eight countries in South Asia to prioritise, promote, and safeguard children’s rights.

It was an opportunity to plug in the critical role that parliamentarians can play in tackling key development challenges affecting children within the larger framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, it said. (IANS)

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Millions Of Urban Children in Worse Condition Than Rural People: UNICEF

ICLEI, a global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions, said disasters were more likely to impact the most vulnerable in cities, including children.

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Urban CHildren
A girl sells candies along a street in the Miraflores district in Lima. VOA

Millions of poor urban children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday than those living in rural areas, according to a U.N. study released Tuesday that challenges popular assumptions behind the global urbanization trend.

The UNICEF research found not all children in cities benefited from the so-called urban advantage — the idea that higher incomes, better infrastructure and proximity to services make for better lives.

“For rural parents, at face-value, the reasons to migrate to cities seem obvious: better access to jobs, health care and education opportunities for their children,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF director of data, research and policy.

urban children
Children play in a pool that has no system to replace the water in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 13, 2015. Brazil is among the world’s largest economies, but lags in access to water and sanitation. Rapid urban growth in recent decades, poor planning, political infighting and economic instability are largely to blame, experts say. VOA

“But not all urban children are benefiting equally; we find evidence of millions of children in urban areas who fare worse than their rural peers.”

Although most urban children benefit from living in cities, the study identified 4.3 million globally who were more likely to die before age five than their rural counterparts, and said 13.4 million were less likely to complete primary school.

“Children should be a focus of urban planning, yet in many cities they are forgotten, with millions of children cut off from social services in urban slums and informal settlements,” said Chandy in a statement.

Urban Children
A mother seeking entry into the United States with her children in McAllen, Texas. VOA

About 1 billion people are estimated to live in slums globally, hundreds of millions of them children, according to the U.N. children’s agency.

A decade ago, the world officially became majority urban, and two-thirds of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to the United Nations.

“We applaud UNICEF for putting numbers around a problem that will only get more serious as more and more families move to cities,” said Patrin Watanatada of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, which works to promote early childhood development. “Cities can be wonderful places to grow up, rich with opportunities — but they can also pose serious challenges for a child’s healthy development.”

 Urban children
New campaign to limit children’s calories to 200 per day. wikimedia commons

Poor transport links, limited access to health clinics and parks, as well as growing air pollution and stressed caregivers can exacerbate city living for children, said Watanatada.

Improved walking and cycling infrastructure, affordable housing and transportation, and polices targeted at supporting children and those who care for them could help ease life for urban families.

Also Read: Ebola Increases The Number Of Orphans in DRC: UNICEF

ICLEI, a global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions, said disasters were more likely to impact the most vulnerable in cities, including children.

“Children are disproportionately affected by gaps in urban services, especially when it comes to water, sanitation, air quality, and food security,” said Yunus Arikan, head of global policy and advocacy at ICLEI. (VOA)