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UNICEF Deputy Director, Anita Tiessen
"Investment in education is one of the best ways for individuals and countries to start lifting themselves out of poverty"
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Monday, 26 February, 2001, 12:33 GMT
Mandela urges action on children
Angolan child with polio
Child deaths worldwide each day: 30,000
Former South African President, Nelson Mandela, has told an international conference on child poverty that children must be moved to the centre of the world agenda.

Speaking via a video link, Mr Mandela said that investment strategies had to be rewritten, to prevent the needless deaths of 30,000 children worldwide every day.


These are tragedies that can be prevented. They should be prevented

Nelson Mandela
"Let us seize the opportunity of this new millennium to take action before more children die needlessly," he told the delegates in London.

Mr Mandela said that nearly 11 million children across the world were likely to die this year from chronic malnutrition, infection and diarrhoea.

"These are tragedies that can be prevented. They should be prevented."

Targets

Targets have already been set for 2015, by when all children should get at least primary education, and infant mortality should be reduced by two thirds.

The host, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, told delegates the targets were achievable, but said that unless policymakers acted together now, they would be missed.

Gordon Brown
UK chancellor Gordon Brown: Pushing for action
Mr Brown said: "Millions of world children live on a knife-edge of existence.

"Many are crippled by poverty and war. This is both an affront and a challenge.

"In an era of prosperity, more than ever the world's children must become our cause."

He announced the creation of the Queen's Jubilee Year Fund, designed to help educate 75 million children throughout the Commonwealth.

He also promised tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies looking for affordable medicine against Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, diseases devastating the developing world.

It is not clear how much the help is worth as he will not announce figures until next month's budget.

The President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn who is also at the conference says that rich country governments have an important role to play by opening their markets to goods from the developing world and giving more aid.

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26 Feb 01 | Africa
A sheet of paper for a bed
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