Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK


UN chief welcomes six billionth baby

One in six billion: Fatima Nevic shows off her baby boy

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the planet's sixth billionth human being into the world at a maternity hospital in Sarajevo.

World Population
The as-yet-unnamed baby boy was born in the city's University Clinical Centre at 0002 local time (2202GMT) on Tuesday - which the UN chose as "D6B", the day when humanity would pass the symbolic threshold.

Despite UN officials earlier saying Mr Annan's presence in the Bosnian capital was purely coincidental and there was no particular reason a Sarajevo baby had been selected, the UN chief acknowledged the symbolism of the birth in a city still scarred by years of war.

[ image: Mr Annan says the baby should be a symbol for tolerance in Sarajevo]
Mr Annan says the baby should be a symbol for tolerance in Sarajevo
Speaking at the hospital, Mr Annan said the event should be a spur towards restoring "the tolerance and multi-religious atmosphere that once characterised Sarajevo and Bosnia".

"The birth today of the six billionth person on the planet - a beautiful boy in a city returning to life, to a people rebuilding their homes, in a region restoring a culture of coexistence after a decade of war - should light a path of tolerance and understanding for all people," he said.

Hospital officials say the 3.55kg (8lb) boy and mother, 29-year-old Fatima Nevic, are both doing well.

Symbolic date

The BBC's Linda Duffin: "This baby is a warning to an increasingly overcrowded world"
"It is very fortunate and a pleasure for the entire staff of the clinic ... for this event to happen here," said hospital paediatrics chief Dr Idris Bukvic.

Population experts concede that D6B is purely a symbolic date.

With more than 3 babies born around the world every second, it is impossible to work out which baby is the world's six billionth.

(Click here to see a graph of world population growth)

Most demographers said the baby was more likely to be born in Asia than Bosnia.

The BBC's Owen Bennett Jones reports from Pakistan where population will double by 2035
The symbolic birth coincided with China defending its controversial birth-control policy.

"Without taking effective measures to slow down the rapid growth of its population, China would have 300 million people more than the current figure of 1.248 billion," senior family planning official Zhang Weiqing was quoted as saying by the official Chinese news agency.

China operates a one-child policy which has earned it praise and vitriol in almost equal measure.

Population explosion

[ image: Sarajevo is still rebuilding after the bitter Bosnian war]
Sarajevo is still rebuilding after the bitter Bosnian war
UN population experts say the country has made sacrifices for the benefit of the whole world, but human rights groups argue the policy infringes civil liberties and encourages forced abortions.

China denies this, although it admits that occasionally local officials overstep the line.

In the end D6B and Baby Six Billion were chosen by the UN to highlight the problems of the world's population explosion.

BBC Beijing Correspondent Duncan Hewitt: "Loopholes in the law could mean more children for China"
At the Sarajevo hospital Mr Annan warned of the huge challenge that the world faced in coming years "to feed, to clothe and house" its growing population.

Although the growth rate has slowed in recent years, the world population has doubled since 1960 and the UN estimates that the vast majority of new-born infants will grow up to be poor and illiterate.

"The challenge to feed and clothe and house this great mass of humanity over the next decades will be immense," Mr Annan said.

"The means, however, are available. The question is whether we will have the will."

[ image:  ]

(click here to return)

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

11 Oct 99 | South Asia
Bangladesh running out of space

10 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
India passes population landmark

22 Sep 99 | Sci/Tech
World population still climbing

11 Apr 99 | Sci/Tech
Rising death rates slow population growth

21 Jan 99 | Health
Sex education to halt population boom

Internet Links

International Planned Parenthood Federation

UN Population Fund

Population Action International

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named