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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 11:05 GMT
One billion 'denied a childhood'
A child surrounded by soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The report says millions of children have died in recent wars
More than one billion children around the world face a brutal existence because of poverty, war and Aids, the UN children's agency reports.

The conditions in effect deny them a childhood, Unicef says.

More than half of under-18s are affected, according to its report, The State of the World's Children.

"Too many governments are making informed, deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood," said Carol Bellamy, director of Unicef.

Read some of the key points and see graphs from Unicef's report on child poverty

"When half the world's children are growing up hungry and unhealthy, when schools have become targets and whole villages are being emptied by Aids, we've failed to deliver on the promise of childhood," Ms Bellamy said, launching the annual report in London on Thursday.

War casualties

Despite signing the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, many governments are failing to fulfil its principles, the report claims.

You just can't talk about helping the children, while you keep on supplying arms, which will eventually kill those children
MK, Nepal

Unicef says poverty for children is less a factor of income than of basic rights.

It says more than one billion children do not have access to at least one of seven commodities deemed essential: shelter, water, sanitation, schooling, information, healthcare and food.

Another scourge detailed in the report is war.

A child working in India
640 million children do not have adequate shelter
In the 1990s about 20 million children fled their homes because of war
In just two years (2001-03), 15 million children lost at least one parent to Aids
Source: Unicef
Unicef estimates that nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in wars since 1990 have been children.

Millions more were displaced by conflict, or even forced to take part as child soldiers.

Aids is a growing threat to children, the report finds - not just through HIV infection, but because millions have been orphaned by the disease.

Unicef urges governments to adopt "a human rights-based approach" to social and economic development, and to bear in mind the effects on children when making policies.

Why children worldwide are suffering

UN warns of triple child scourges
06 Dec 04 |  South Asia
UN issues child poverty warning
13 Oct 04 |  Europe
Scraping a living on Peru streets
12 Jun 04 |  Americas
1m French children 'in poverty'
17 Feb 04 |  Europe

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