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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – Reports Show Some Conditions Worsening in Developing World - 2004-12-19

Broadcast: December 20, 2004

This is Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Some new reports about conditions in developing countries offer little to celebrate.

Carol Bellamy of UNICEF says half of the more than two thousand million children in the world "are growing up hungry and unhealthy." The United Nations Children’s Fund says the biggest threats are poverty, war and HIV/AIDS.

The UNICEF report defines child poverty as the lack of at least one of seven services needed to survive, grow and develop. These are shelter, food, safe water, health care, clean living conditions, education and information. UNICEF and British researchers found that at least seven hundred million children lacked two or more of these services.

The report also says almost half of all people killed in war since nineteen ninety have been children. And, in some African countries, the spread of AIDS has meant high child death rates and shorter life expectancy.

UNICEF noted progress made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a nineteen eighty-nine international treaty. But it says these gains are threatened in several areas. In fact, it says child poverty has also risen in some developed countries.

Carol Bellamy, the head of UNICEF, says too many governments are making choices that "hurt childhood."

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that at least five million children each year die because of hunger and poor nutrition. The F.A.O. says there were eight hundred fifty-two million hungry people in the world between two thousand and two thousand two. That number was up eighteen million from five years before. The F.A.O. says hunger costs developing countries thousands of millions of dollars a year in lost productivity and national earnings.

Low wages were a subject for the International Labor Organization. This U.N. agency says half of all workers earn less than two dollars a day. The percentage is lower than in nineteen ninety. Still, the number of people is estimated at a record one thousand four hundred million.

Foreign aid might help with jobs. Yet the group Oxfam International reported that the aid budgets of wealthy nations are half what they were in nineteen sixty.

Next year, Britain will lead both the Group of Eight major industrial nations and the European Union. The government has promised to make the fight against world poverty one of its main goals.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I'm Gwen Outen.